by Kirby Lindsay, posted 9 September 2011
Fremont has several murals, which are often adored to a degree that verges on the realm of obsession. Collectively, our painted murals reflect as much diversity as our sculptures – diverse artistic styles, choice of subjects and, in particular, their methods of acquisition.
Curiously, the installations of four of these murals form a nearly parallel line, just east of Fremont Avenue.
The Fremont Mural
Installed: 1993 Artist: ABZ (signature) With no apparent reason for being, or public information available about the artist, this enduring piece of graffiti-esque alley art has endured. Recent defacing marks may endanger its existence, even as it exists as one of the few pieces of Fremont art acknowledging its location. Located: On the alley side of the building housing Lucky Pho, at 3414 Fremont Avenue North.
Still Life In Fremont mural
Installed: 1994 Artist: Parris (signature) Seventeen years later, the business next door – the Still Life In Fremont coffee house – is gone (but far from forgotten) but the art endures. It’s continued existence may be due to forgetfulness, or a tribute to the obvious artistic merit of the work. According to an internet source, the signature of ‘Parris’ appeared on other artistic signs, in Belltown and Broadway, in the mid-1990s.
The original owners of the Still Life coffee house may have commissioned the work, which captures some of the character of the now-legendary, and sorely missed, hangout. Still Life sold, in September 2002, and after a slow transformation into a fine dining restaurant, the name changed to 35th Street Bistro. The bistro sold again, a few years later, taking it further from its foundations, but with the mural still decorating the wall and serving as a touchstone with the past. Located: On the north-facing wall of 3424 Fremont Avenue North.
The Aurora Bridge Mural (a.k.a. The Bridge Way Mural)
Installed: 1997 Artist: Patrick Gabriel In the mid-1990s, Gabriel attended a Fremont Arts Council meeting and offered to paint a mural along the underpass of Aurora Avenue near Bridge Way. He said he lived near the site, and wanted to see more there than a bare wall. With their okey-dokey, and little else, he painted the mural and saw to its maintenance for a few years until he moved away from Seattle.
The mural, located at a significant Fremont gateway, unfortunately attracts vandals. A few times the damage has covered so much of the surface that community-wide alarms went out for painting parties and action. The most recent alarm (extensively covered in the Fremocentrist.com, particularly on August 12, 2011) unearthed an e-mail, written by Gabriel to a concerned neighborhood representative, expressing frustration over the condition of the mural, and his desire to see it removed permanently. At this time, it appears, the Fremont community has inherited another piece of art work. Located: Under Aurora Avenue/Highway 99 at North 38th Street, facing south.
The 46th Street Mural
Dedicated: August, 2010 Artist: Todd Lown The existence of this mural reflects the very best in community activism, and what can be accomplished through the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Matching Grant program.
Citizens of Fremont/Wallingford (or Wallingford/Fremont) residing around the 46th Street underpass of Aurora Avenue decided to revitalize their area, for the benefit of all the people who pass by there. A steering committee led the effort, including Linda Clifton, Matt Gasperich, Leah Eister-Hargrave, Charlie Cunniff, Craig van den Bosch, Deborah Bell, Gerald X. Diamond, and Eric Wahl.
Using an entirely public process they selected an artist, the matching grant spurred on donations, and volunteers (plus youth working through Urban ArtWorks) painted it in following the outline – with a lot of hands-on, detail work done personally by Lown. Located: Under Aurora Avenue/Highway 99 at North 46th Street, facing south.
Maintenance Means Everything
Murals may be one of the easiest forms of art to create – in gaining permission and installation – but they also face easiest extinction. Over the last thirty years, Fremont has lost murals due to neglect, change of ownership/occupancy of the structure and/or severe damage.
For those who wish to see these images enjoyed by future generations of Fremonsters, preservation efforts can be led by anyone willing to put a hand to a paint brush, and/or a pocketbook.
- Fremont Public Art Inventory, Part IV: At The Center
- by Kirby Lindsay, March 23, 2011
- Improving Your Dining Habit
- by Kirby Lindsay, May 4, 2004 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- FAC Highlight Reel: Progress Through Cooperation
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 12, 2011
- Another Look At The People Waiting, and Rich Beyer
- by Kirby Lindsay, September 7, 2011
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.