How do you move a mural? In a school bus, of course. At least, if you’re Mary Mann you do. The Tacoma muralist moved a 14-panel mural measuring 28 by 14 feet this morning from the gym at Stewart Middle School, where she had spent the last few months painting it, and its new home at Ruston’s Antique Sandwich Company. The mural’s partially funded by the City of Tacoma’s 2011 Innovative Neighborhood Grant program.
Tacoma’s eight neighborhood councils recommend funding for projects like these in their areas, says the City of Tacoma’s Elton Gatewood. The West End neighborhood council asked for $7,300 to partly fund the mural in an effort to beautify the area. It will replace the faded panel mural currently up on the café’s southern wall at the intersection of North Pearl and North 51st Streets.
“My idea was to focus on the natural beauty of the area – it’s an allegory of our place,” says Mann, an artist whose other Tacoma murals include the giant stage on the side of Tacoma Little Theatre. Around an enormous circle holding the park at Pt. Defiance, two mermaids cradle animals like wolves and octopi, their fins decorated with Coast Salish-type art. Mann is also selling prints of the design through the café.
It also gave a great opportunity to art students at Tacoma’s SAMI high school, where Mann teaches art: Students volunteered to intern for Mann over the summer, helping her paint the enormous panels.
Finally, the mural was ready for moving – in a school bus, each panel wrapped in blankets, to be carted individually up the café’s stairs this morning. The mural will be installed over Labor Day weekend.
Other murals, painted directly on walls, have gone up around Tacoma this summer as part of the Arts Commissions Murals Project, which teaches professional artists how to paint murals under the guidance of experienced artists. Chris Sharp and Kelda Martenson led the mural on the 43rd Street barriers at 310 E. 43rd St., and Joni Joachims, Rachael Dotson and Jeremy Gregory led the mural at Bergerson Terrace at 5301 S. Orchard St. The project began last year, and will continue next year with five more murals.
Dotson also painted a mural of flowers on the southern wall of Don’s Market, just two blocks along 51st Street from the Antique Sandwich Company in Ruston.
More information about Tacoma murals can be found at www.tacomaculture.org/arts/murals.asp.