The two artists are on a tight schedule. The official ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for September 5 from 11 AM – 2 PM.
Spanning 188 feet, the mural pays tribute to Kenmore’s rich and eclectic history.
“There were definitely parts of the city’s history some people didn’t want showcased, but it was really important to us to tell the true story – the story of a place where everyone was accepted,” Gaul told me on day 80 of active painting.
At the time of our interview, more than 5,000 man hours had been poured into the project. From time-to-time, volunteers joined the ladies – including the mayor and his wife. But mostly, it was just Staci and Gaul armed with their brushes and their wit.
While these two definitely take their art seriously, they are quick to have fun. It shows in their bright color palette, their use of Northwest inspired realism, and their sense of imagination. If you watch long enough, you might even catch one of them pretending to pluck an ice cream cone from the wall.
Designed specifically to be viewed from the street, the mural features large blocks of color and images that are scaled draw the eye upward and forward. The design causes the viewing experience to change drastically based on your perspective. Pedestrians walking beside the mural are treated to small details such as a portrait here and the furry rump of a deer there. Passengers driving past enjoy a flip-book-esc view as images blend into a story. Even from the air, the mural catches your eye with bold shapes.
Among their favorite pieces is the image of a Native American woman. “For me, she not only pays homage to those who were here first, she is a representation of how this project is a collaboration. Gaul did the body and the portrait. I did the basket and the headdress. It just means a lot to me,” Staci told me.
Gaul also pointed to the shopping cart, located near the center of the mural. Like a modern day cornucopia, it honors those within the community whose homes might be on four wheels. “It makes you consider, ‘What would you put in your shopping cart?’ And that’s really important as we think about and include every member of our community,” Gaul explained.
What’s my favorite part? The Kenmore Air seaplane of course! (I might be biased.) You’ll find it located on the east end of the mural with a wingspan stretching nearly 18 feet!
Were pieces of Kenmore’s history left out? Undoubtedly, yes. For example, the city had a single jail cell in its early days. “If we’d known about it from the beginning, I’d have put Gaul inside,” Staci said.
But for the most part, the year of research and collaboration the women poured into the mural has culminated in a comprehensive – and undeniably beautiful – addition to Kenmore’s landscape.