Windows of opportunity

Cathy Gallatin works on a mural at Holly Theater in Medford Tuesday. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie LuschJamie Lusch

While most artists view their work as a permanent contribution to the world — perhaps to be regarded for decades or centuries to come — some of Cathy Gallatin's work is washed away in just a few weeks or months.

A professional artist and muralist, Gallatin paints scenes on commercial and residential windows in addition to canvas pieces.

Cathy Gallatin

Age: 46

Job title: Artist and window mural painter

Job description: Creates murals and other designs for storefront and residential windows

Salary: Varies drastically from one job to the next

Education: Art school

How long on the job: Paid muralist for 17 years

If you could have your dream job today, what would it be? She's wanted to be an artist since age 11

Gallatin happened onto the gig a dozen years ago, when she moved to the Rogue Valley from Los Angeles and began attending art classes here. An instructor offered her some insight into the window-painting businesses.

At first, she declined the offer. But when the teacher planned to leave town for other ambitions, she relented and agreed to take over some of his clients.

"I started working with some of his old customers and they really liked my stuff," said Gallatin, who launched her art career 17 years ago. She's been doing windows now for 11 years.

Gallatin uses both air tools and brushes for her work and orders special weather-resistant paints — a trade secret — from out of state.

"Just call it Disney paint," she said with a laugh.

"Whatever it is they use, it holds up better, just like this."

The 46-year-old doesn't let a little Oregon rain keep her from her duties.

Some days find her hunched under a tarp with special lights and a propane tank for heat, trying to finish a job.

"And during summer, you don't paint past one o'clock in the afternoon or you paint graveyard," she said.

"The weather up here, because we get four seasons, has been a real challenge painting on the outside of a building."

For commercial businesses, Gallatin paints decorative text announcing special events or sales or adorns windows for the various seasons and holidays.

For homeowners, she's often hired to add trailing ivy, murals or stained glass appeal on windows.

Gallatin is practical about her temporary art. When it's gone, it just means more work will be available.

"If you wear your heart on your sleeve when you're out there painting temporal art, or even chalk art, you're going to have a hard time," she said.

"Most chalk jobs only last two to five days. Windows last a tad bit longer but they're painted for special events or holidays, and you don't want a Christmas scene staying up past spring. "¦ Besides, when they scrape it off, I get to come back around and paint something else."

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