Last year, an ambitious initiative to cover some of Seattle’s growing number of large, blank walls with professional murals got sidelined by an insurance issue. The City of Seattle insisted that Stunning Seattle, the arts organization behind the murals, acquire copyright protection insurance that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. Faced with this sudden, unexpected cost, the project was put on hold. Now, the organization has rebranded itself as the Seattle Mural Project, and it’s about to announce the four artists or artist groups that will provide murals at four different locations around Capitol Hill, all funding secured.
“We were asked to change our name because another group alleged to have a claim to the name we were using. After a period of careful legal examination we decided that the best course of action was to change the name of our project and move forward under the new name ‘Seattle Mural Project,’” Justin Hart of the SMP said. “We don’t really have any issue with bringing the blocking issues from the past up, but we feel that these issues are no longer a relevant part of the story relating to the project at hand. That being said, we are very excited to be moving forward with the project.”
All four of the SMP sites are in prominent portions of our neighborhood. The locations are as follows: The north wall of Shop Rite Drugs at 426 15th Avenue East; the north wall of the Union Art Co-Op at 1100 East Union Street; the west wall of the Olive Terrace Apartments at 430 East Howell Street; and the east wall of the Pike Building at 1000 East Pike Street.
SMP expects painting to begin on June 26 and to run until July 31, though these dates are subject to artist availability. Prior to the start of each mural, the artists’ proposed designs will undergo review by the SMP, the owners of the buildings, and an online voting system open to the community at large.
The SMP has already provided a general design philosophy and set of goals for these four murals. The intent is to help establish Seattle as a hub for arts and culture on a global scale by demonstrating the evolution of local street art. Seattleites have responded well to public murals over the past few years, most notably in the case of the mural on one side of the Villa Apartments at the intersection of Pine Street and Boren Avenue, created by muralist Derek Wu, Northwest School teacher Curtis Erlinger, and Erlinger’s students in 2012.
“We’ve had interactions with local community groups, businesses, and property owners during the course of planning of Seattle Mural Project,” Hart said. “We’ve spoken to countless property owners, the majority of whom excitedly support the project. During the grant application process we held a number of presentations with question-and-answer sessions. We’ve formed relationships with the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, bringing well rounded support from both the community of residents as well as the business community.”
The four SMP murals in Capitol Hill will be funded by the Department of Neighborhoods Matching Fund program, which includes $3,000 in compensation for the artists, up to $300 worth of supplies, a lift, transportation of materials, and a site assistant. Miller Paint and Art Primo have signed on as sponsors of the project to provide supplies. At this time, the SMP is not sure if they will be able to provide travel reimbursement for non-local artists, as that is not part of the Matching Fund grant and will depend on additional donations.
Other sponsors of the SMP are the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, the Awesome Foundation, Blitz Capitol Hill Art Walks, the Capitol Hill Community Council, Vans, Teatro Zinzanni, the Seattle Gay News, and Photo Center Northwest.
Before the sponsors joined the SMP, and the deal with the city became official, the project had to gather new volunteers and renew the volunteer applications of those who originally signed up for the Stunning Seattle project. The Neighborhood Matching Fund grants calculate the assets and community interest of a grant applicant by many resources, including volunteer hours. The SMP received an enthusiastic response to its call for volunteers beginning in late November of 2013.
SMP will announce the four winning applications by April 25. The online community voting system should be available shortly after the announcement.