72-year-old artist restores mural at 30 feet - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

72-year-old artist restores mural at 30 feet

(WMC-TV) - A gifted Memphis artist put the finishing touches on massive murals inside a historic downtown church Tuesday.

The artist, Ernie Patton, is best known for painting portraits of stars like Muhammad Ali and other people of note.

This job required Patton to paint in the middle of a kind of high wire act.

Ernie Patton, 72, says he climbed the scaffolding to the murals 18 times each day.

"I'm thinking about not falling off the scaffold most of the time," he laughed.

Patton kept his balance, bringing forth his mastery with a paintbrush 30 feet up.

"You've got to put a lot of soul in it," he explained.

The murals of Saints Patrick and Bridget, as well as the Nativity scene, centered over the altar at St. Patrick Church downtown that had dulled over time. The church approached Patton to redo the murals years ago but could not afford the job. Patton recently painted the portrait of a Memphis notable and convinced his subject to underwrite this effort.

Reverend Tim, Sullivan, St. Patrick's pastor, says he has been amazed to watch the master artist restore the images over the past 28 days.

"This has so brightened it up. Every person that's come to church over the past couple weeks has been overwhelmed by the beauty, and the inspiration," said Reverend Tim Sullivan.

With thousands of paint strokes, Ernie Patton has refreshed century old images of saints and brought back to life a sacred scene, which is central to the faith of so many.

Now that the St. Patrick's restoration is complete, Patton says he will resume his portrait work back on solid ground.

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