By Reeve Washburn, Art Walk Coordinator
What do a tattoo parlor, a Pike Place Market fabric artist and a community art studio all have in common? They are the creative engines behind new mural projects soon to be unveiled at the brand new West Seattle Mural Alley! During Art Walk, on Thursday evening, October 10, at 7pm, the public will get its first view of the murals in the renovated walk-through passage, immediately to the north of Northwest Art & Frame on California Ave SW. Observant neighbors and visitors may have noticed that West Seattle has a remarkable number of murals on display, some created as far back as 1989. They proudly tell a story of who we were back in the day, before easy access to downtown; and who we are today, an evolving, growing center of urban vibrancy. Mural Alley is just the latest tribute to our community, with murals painted by many hands during the 2019 West Seattle Summer Fest, gracing the spruced-up passageway.
We can thank the West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA) for spearheading this new westside landmark with funding via the mural restoration crowdfunder. Lora Radford, executive director, together with the WSJA Board, assembled a dream team of local business owners and artists to design and plan these three groupings of murals. If you enjoyed Summer Fest this year, you probably saw at least one of the projects in action, as they were all painted in the open air within the three-day festival.
“Journey to the Sea II,” Stacey Sterling, Art Director
Over 160 Summer Fest participants, from age one to 80, helped create this mural, second in a series that was revealed last year. Stacey’s main focus with her art is to bring people closer to our oceans and the effect of our pollutants on the water and marine life in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. Stacey loved seeing parents and children work together on the design and relished the chance to talk with them about the ocean’s health. Stacey is a full-time vendor at Pike Place Market, selling marine life paintings and a collection of organic cotton hand-painted clothing that features the same marine life. She plans to continue public art work, involving the community, and incorporating education to preserve our local waters.
“I give the community a chance to be part of a piece of art that they can look at in their environment for many years.” Stacey Sterling, Artist
“Chasing the Dragon,“ Blue Geisha Tattoo, Woods Bramble, Owner & Art Director
A team of tattoo artists, including Woods, his daughter Bailey Parke and Jose Rodriguez, brought this fascinatingly juxtaposed composition to life – with an unexpected twist of Hollywood/local history. Woods chose to represent classic tattoo motifs of weight and balance, angles and curves, ire and repose, with an Asian dragon and icon of feminine beauty, mid-20th century screenstar Hedy Lamarr. Turns out, Hedy Lamarr’s granddaughter lives in West Seattle and was moved to tears when she saw the beautiful design! Woods has been a professional artist for 30 years, creating paintings, murals and prop work for the film industry, as well as ink on skin and watercolor on paper. He is excited to add more current artwork to the line-up of historic West Seattle murals, and is confident other artists will be eager to get behind more projects like this that will take the community into the future.
“As an artist, murals are close to my heart.” Woods Bramble, Owner, Blue Geisha Tattoo
“Schmitz Park Crocodile, the Whale Tail from Whale Tail Park at Alki, and the c Griffin from Lincoln Park,” West Seattle Art Nest, Althea Kalivoda and Mary Murphy, Co-owners & Art Directors
Hundreds of helping hands also contributed to this triptych of beloved West Seattle park landmarks during Summer Fest 2019. The original sculptures are all artworks themselves, representing the unique character of our part of the city and spirit of fun for kids who play on or around them. Althea and Mary thought this theme would represent Summer Fest perfectly, since community is always a strong focus of the festival. Art Nest believes everyone can benefit from making space for creativity in their lives. They have created a studio where everyone, young and old, can get their art on without worrying about supplies, set up, clean up, or, most importantly, judgement. This project brought much joy that summer weekend, and now will be lasting touchstone of local history for all to see.
“We just love watching the creative process unfold and are always looking for ways to collaborate and bring more art into our community.” Althea Kalivoda, co-owner, West Seattle Art Nest
This wonderful urban storytelling will be mounted in the walk-through passage, itself a vestige of West Seattle’s past, for all to appreciate. With the help of many WSJA volunteers and funding from the building owners, it has been thoroughly power-washed and detailed, and now sports a new paint job of puffy clouds overhead and nice bright lights to help passersby view the art in great conditions. West Seattle’s resident mural restoration expert Bob Henry painted the clouds thanks to a generous gift from the Miller family, as he took a break from his multi-year restoration work on the historic murals, also generously funded by a private gift to the WSJA two years ago. Pay Mural Alley a visit during the unveiling tomorrow night at 7pm or on your next trip to the Junction! Especially if you had a hand in the art’s creation.
Mural Alley is just north of 4733 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116.
Read more Business Spotlights on our West Seattle Art Walk blog: Inner Alchemy, The Office of Rebecca Mitsui, Northwest Art & Frame, Wild Rose’s, West Seattle Garden Tour + Capers Home, Canna West Seattle + Culture Shop, West Seattle Art Nest, John L. Scott West Seattle and The Building.