When Keith Hammond started painting the lobby wall of MultiCare’s Westgate Urgent Care Clinic, the staff weren’t so confident in him: Here was a financial services agent who hadn’t painted since high school, and the first animal he roughed out on a sea-blue background didn’t look a whole lot like a turtle. Nearly a month later and things are different: Hammond’s mural, painted voluntarily in his spare time, is getting admiration and questions from kid and adult patients alike, and brightening up the waiting room space.
“The last time I picked up a paintbrush was in my sophomore year,” says Hammond, a bit sheepishly. He’d also drawn a bit, though not lately. But then his girlfriend, who works in the Urgent Care reception, saw a pencil portrait he’d done 14 years ago, and recommended him to do MultiCare’s mural, which had been stymied when their first artist choice didn’t work out.
The result, which Hammond is finishing off next week, goes way beyond commercial graphic. Fish, shrimp, a turtle, even a hammerhead shark with razor teeth swim around highly textured coral. The color spectrum is subtle and well-shaded, and the whole thing is being very well received by waiting patients.
“The kids ask tons of questions,” says the artist, “but what’s weird is that more adults like it than kids.”
And as a volunteer project, done around his self-owned business working hours, it’s a generous donation to the clinic.
Hammond will be working on the mural during the day next week at MultiCare Westgate Urgent Care Clinic, 5702 N. 26th St., Tacoma.