Back to Arts

Brushes vs. blight

The Tacoma Murals Project continues its success

Bergerson Terrace/Orchard Street Mural: For the community, by the community. Photo courtesy Jeremy Gregory

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

The Tacoma Murals Project returned in full force this summer. The result? Two new cool murals fighting blight one paintbrush stroke at a time.

The Tacoma Murals Project began in 2010 as part of Tacoma's Safe and Clean effort. The project is designed to fight vandalism, working with community groups to select mural locations and designs. However, this nifty project also benefits artists who want to learn how to complete an outdoor mural. Teaching artists work with selected students (who are already experienced artists) in a series of classroom sessions before the teams are paired with community groups.

This year, there were five lead artists. Chris Sharp and Kelda Martensen teamed up on the 43rd Street mural, which features leaves, seed pods, birds and other elements echoing the gulch near the site. Rachael Dotson, Joni Joachims and Jeremy Gregory headed up the Bergerson Terrace/Orchard Street mural, which integrates ideas from the community - music, diversity, family, play, nature and community.

"The sense of togetherness and a spirit of fun all came together in the design phase of the mural, and gave us a design which was amazing to paint and even more impactful than I anticipated when finished," says Dotson.

Eleven students worked with the lead artists to learn the ropes of mural painting and design. Students were encouraged to work on both murals.

"The sites were very different from each other and we hoped that students would be able to give both a try and thereby broaden their experience," says Dotson.

But beyond simply painting, students were immersed in the business of art. They learned to integrate community ideas, how to prep and preserve the wall, deal with contracts, value artwork and use tools cost effectively.

In addition to helping plan the mural designs, members of the communities remained interested as the murals went up.

"The community was very active in our dialogue sessions and they gave us great ideas to work with," says Dotson.

"The kids were curious about the process, who we were as people, and wanted to ‘help' at every step," she says of the kids at the playground near the Bergerson Terrace mural.

"In general, this program has been really well received by the communities, and has been successful at reclaiming blighted areas," says Naomi Strom-Avila, Cultural Arts Specialist with the Tacoma Arts Commission. "Artists spend quite a lot of time talking to neighbors to understand the area, what their concerns are, what their hopes are, and they then take that information and develop a proposal that reflects those conversations. We want neighborhoods to connect to, and take pride and ownership of their murals. We hope they can be catalysts for change and a way to draw neighbors together."

There are plans for five more murals next summer. Calls to community groups will go out in early 2012.

Mural locations

  • 43rd St. Barriers, 310 E. 43rd St., Tacoma
  • Bergerson Terrace, 5301 S. Orchard St., Tacoma
Read next close


"Parenthetically Speaking"

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search