words and photos by Alex Garland
Seattle is often called “The Emerald City” due to the ever-shrinking tree canopy that provides us with shade and clean air. Those that call it home, know Seattle by its true color: grey. From the concrete that makes up our buildings and sidewalks to the nine months of cloudy skies, this town can be a gloomy place.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. The concrete walls that grey up our city are often brought to life by the talented muralists and street artists that brighten our days.
On the corner of Beacon Ave South and 15th Ave South sits a concrete block building beautified by murals on its Eastern exterior wall. The murals were painted long before Dozer’s Warehouse took over the Beacon Arts Community Space and Gallery, but give you a nice taste of what’s inside.
“This whole building is slated for demolition”, says Betty Jean Williamson, a volunteer with Beacon Arts. “Our move out date is currently December 1st”. Future plans for the property include a mixed use building with market rate residential units on the upper floors and commercial space on the bottom floor. In the meantime though, “the property owner, Scott McDonald, has gifted us this space”. The art will remain on the walls until the building is demolished.
Beacon Arts came to Crick Lont with the opportunity to use the space, and Crick, being a longtime collaborator in the Seattle street art scene jumped at the opportunity. Created from the leftover paint from Paradiso, a music festival held at the Gorge Amphitheater and known for it’s mural art, Dozer’s Warehouse is about as organic as you get. Street artists like “Yes” from New York, “Clowns” from LA, “Graver” from Seattle, “Jaber” from LA, “Jhere” from Colorado, and “Style” from LA flocked to the opportunity to contribute their art. Even famed local street artists like “Charms” and “Henry” contributed walls.
“At artist number twenty I was like ,’alright, I need to do a show…this landed in my lap and made it perfect. June 25th this whole place was white and people were in here painting up until last night”.
As you enter through the Beacon Arts Center, you’re welcomed by a friendly face reminding you to sign up for a raffle prize and are instantly beckoned further into the Center, the walls pulling you closer as you glance the art, recognizing similar looking tags to those you see on your daily walk, yet these are slightly more refined.
These smaller prints are an additional collaboration between the event organizer, Crick Lont and many of the 72 artists who became a part of the project. Sarah Nack (#60) is an artist who saw a video on Facebook that Crick made, talking about the project being a collaboration with Paradiso artists.
“The thing that attracted me the most is that this isn’t going to be here in a few months and it’s bringing together so many artists. I’ve never been a part of anything like this”.
Dope beats waft throughout the front space, leading you towards the main showcase. As you enter “Dozer’s Warehouse”, you are surrounded by vivid color. Words and designs leap out of the wall, almost three dimensional in their effects. Displayed as if in an art gallery, yet instead of separate art, it’s blended together, giving a sense of continuity through collaboration.
It’s overwhelming to a degree, but the booklet picked up at the door acts as your guide to the numbers on the art covered walls. Local resident and musician Matt Watson, was there to check out the scene with his young daughter.
“This is groundbreaking. The scope of it, and the fact that there’s a lot of collaboration in there. It’s unprecedented as far as I know”.
Every wall is covered, sometimes the ceiling and the floor are as well. Occasionally you have to step back, sometimes to the center of the room, to really appreciate the scope and intensity of the pieces.
With over 100 murals, and 72 contributing artists, it instantly became one of the largest art shows on Beacon Hill. It’s as if you took all those engaging pieces of graffiti or murals that brighten the grey of your bus ride home and saw them for the art they really are.