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Artists turn graffiti into mural on South Tacoma bridge

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on June 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm with No Comments »
June 29, 2010 5:51 pm


The south side of the 112th Street mural. Photo Rosemary Ponnekanti.

Tired of seeing gang graffiti on the bridge at South 112th Street and Portland Avenue, local graffiti artists have painted over the area to create a mural measuring 50 by 34 feet. The mural was completed last Friday afternoon, and artists say that so far the community response has been positive.

“There was already a painting there by Franklin-Pierce High School students, and a bunch of kids wrote bad stuff over it,” says artist Chris Williamson, one of the 12 artists who spent three days last week on the new mural. “So we did both sides as a mural.”

The north side of the 112th Street mural. Photo Rosemary Ponnekanti.

The mural is on both sides of a Tacoma Rail overpass on South 112th Street, just west of Portland Avenue. It fills the street level of the car tunnel with vivid colors and shapes, even a spunky robin, as well as the name of Williamson’ mural art supply business Gallery 38. Williamson and his crew checked for permission with the Department of Transportation, Tacoma Rail and Franklin Pierce before beginning work.

Trouble is, when gangs write graffiti, they don’t give up.

 Says Williamson, “We were out there Monday and by Tuesday they’d painted over it again. I’m going to go there every weekend and maintain it through summer.”

Williamson, who paints murals for businesses and private homes, also hates it when the buildings around his store get tagged. “It’s horrible, big letters,” he says. “When a boy was killed by gang members at Sprinker a year ago, they wrote all over the rocks nearby about it. The boy’s mother told me that’s what she thinks about whenever she sees gang graffiti up somewhere. “It doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re doing. We’re just trying to make our spot look good.”

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