The six mural boards stretch about six feet long and four feet high. There’s a board per intern and, just like the people that crafted them, each is unique. One beams out at the viewer with bright, bubbly, cartoonish shapes of Americana. Another one depicts a sinuous rainbow, another is a splatter session of greens and reds, another depicts several silhouettes of the artist, moon walking across a club. All the brightness, creativity and positivity will be bringing some color and life to one of Seattle’s drearier blocks.
Along with several other infamous hotels dotting Seattle’s Aurora neighborhood, the Thunderbird was closed back in 2010 for being a chronic nuisance property—one connected with drugs and prostitution. Since then, Catholic Housing Services (an arm of CCSWW) purchased the land with plans to turn the site into a 71 unit affordable housing facility. Demolition on the Thunderbird is complete and the fences around the perimeter are ready and waiting to be clad in some colorful new skins.
Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (CCSWW) partnered with Urban Art Works to create the murals. The Zine Project, a program of CCS, was recruited to lend its creative muscle to the mural project. In turn, Urban Art Works set Zine up with two teaching artists, Steph and Erin, to facilitate the process.
The work was done at the Fremont Arts Council Building—the epicenter for the annual Fremont Solstice parade. The brick building sits halfway up Fremont hill and houses paper mache suns, moons and a tusked elephant. It was the perfect—if packed— locale to create something in.
After an initial brainstorming session, Steph and Erin took pictures of the youth doing different posses. They then projected youth-selected pictures up on to each youth’s mural board. From there, the youth took over tracing, designing and painting.
The process took four days.
Out of the six Zine interns, only Michelle had done a mural before.
I got a parking ticket.
The third to last day ended with lots of white space still needing to be painted. There was some anxiety about completing.
Last Friday, the fourth and final day, the Ziners brought all they had. They packed away their perfectionism and attacked. Chelle finished first and leapt on to help others. Amber came to a place of acceptance of her piece sooner than she thought and took the rest of the time cleaning up and encouraging.
By 1:30pm, as the sun passed west of the studio, the last brush strokes fell, the last ink was put on and the project completed.
The interns took some victory shots and stacked their murals away.
The murals will be placed on the fence line outside the old Thunderbird location and, depending on their durability to weather and ware, the murals may be hung in the common areas of the CHS apartment for future residence to enjoy.
Blog readers get a sneak peak:
Stay tuned for a follow up post on when the public can admire these works of art and bastions of exuberance!
A special thanks to the following to make this happen:
Dan Wise: Division Director at CCS
Erin Maguire: Program Manager at UDYC
Kathleen Warren: Art & Projects Director at Urban Art Works
Steph & Erin: Teaching Artists. Click here to check out their work.