by Steve Potter
Artists Ari Glass and Craig Cundiff have collaborated on a new mural near the Mt. Baker light rail station, and it’s a beauty. Covering the southern and western walls of Cash America Pawn at 2825 Rainier Ave. S., the artwork spans approximately 4,000 square feet and took about a month to paint.
The western wall features an image of a young woman possibly representing Hawaiian goddess of the sea, Namakaokahai. She pours water from a green shell. The water, depicted in a stylized, paisley-like pattern, spreads out around brown and purple boulders strewn with green moss. On the southern wall, a warrior king dressed in gold stands before a golden city visible in the distance behind him.
Work on a large-scale project like this begins long before any paint gets spread. Once funding was acquired, Cundiff and Glass put a considerable amount of thought into planning the artwork. One aspect of this is how they designed the new mural to match up well with an existing mural on the southern wall of the O’Reilly Auto Parts building next door.
Cundiff and Glass teamed up to paint the older mural in 2016. Seen from one point on the light rail line above, or at ground level behind Mt. Baker Lofts, half of the existing mural will align with the new one creating the impression of one long, cohesive artwork. Both feature the distinctive, paisley-like water motif. Seen together, from the proper angle, it looks like one vast surging sea. Accordingly, the artists decided to retain the name of the first mural, “Ebb and Flow,” for this one as well, treating the two murals as one cohesive work of art.
I saw Cundiff standing on the corner beneath the light rail line on a recent afternoon. He gazed at the work-in-progress across the street with great intensity and intention.
“Did you see that,” he asked. “The shadow? When the train went by? How it angled around the corner?”
I’d sort of noticed it: the train overhead, the shadow it cast on the wall, how the shadow was parallel to the roofline of the building along the western wall but arced downward when it was cast on the southern wall. I sort of noticed but I didn’t SEE it the way Cundiff did, didn’t see what it meant in relation to how he needed to negotiate the way he approached his work painting a boulder that will wrap around that corner.
In addition to these two large projects, Cundiff and Glass collaborated on the smaller mural inside Molly Moon’s Ice Cream in Columbia City. They’re doing great work beautifying the city individually as well. Glass’ Pacific Towers project opened to the public about a year ago, and Cundiff’s recent solo projects include the dinosaur mural inside St. John’s Bar & Eatery on Capitol Hill and the climate change protest mural, “My Child, Our Air,” in Georgetown.
Stop on by and take a look next time you’re in the neighborhood. If you are interested in finding the locations of other murals around Seattle, check out this list at The Evergrey.
Featured photo by Steve Potter.