(This article was originally published by Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Since the beginning of Louis Chinn’s art career, he has felt called to make art accessible and free for people from all social standings. It’s one of the philosophies that helps guide him to any new project.
So when an opportunity to install a stainless steel sculpture in front of the entrance of a Plymouth Housing building for folks experiencing long-term homelessness in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District arose, it was an easy decision for Chinn.
“I don’t think art should be something that is only for an elite social group,” Chinn said. “I was very much inspired by the fact that this was going to be a piece that was in a building for homeless people.”
There’s a new mural facing Flo Ware Park on South Jackson Street that will bring even more brightness to the area this summer. On the outer wall of the Seattle Girls’ School is “Find Yourself Outside,” a mural of Black people in a Pacific Northwest landscape swimming, paddleboarding, dancing, camping, and exploring the urban outdoors. At the center of the mural, rising out of a body of water, is a larger-than-life head made of two faces spliced together. The left side of the face is purple and lavender, made of repeating lines and eyes, a recurring archetype in artist AfroSPK’s work. The right side of the face is painted in purple, red, yellow, and cool blues, framed in a halo of curly hair, painted by artist Perri Rhoden. The result is a celebration of Black people in the outdoors and intriguing symbols that inspire the viewer to look a little closer.
Seattle photographer Susan Fried takes us on a tour of the images displayed in the art installation That’s What She Said 206, including the latest in the series. This street artist prefers to remain anonymous, so we’ll refer to them by their Instagram handle, thatswhatshesaid206.
Artist Sam Sneke got a surprise visit from his family on Friday August 22, as he added vibrant red paint to his mural, depicting the words “Power to the People,” created on a wall at the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and South Genesee Street, between Southern Exposure and Baol African Imports and Gallery. Sneke was selected from a small group of artists who submitted examples of their work to a panel of local business owners. A previous mural, which had been there for a few years and was originally painted by members of the Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNG), had started to deteriorate. Emily Trbovich, a project assistant with SNG, said the old mural had really started to look bad and they wanted to figure out a way to involve the community in fixing it.
“The mural had a lot of tags on it and the wall looked really, really bad, and so we were looking through grants that were available through the city and we stumbled upon the [Seattle] Office of Arts and Culture. And they have a COVID Relief Grant which basically gives you a grant to do art or do some type of community project — it just has to be COVID-related.” Trbovich said the businesses she collaborated with included the restaurant Southern Exposure, the People’s Barbershop, The Beacon Cinema, Bana Ethiopian Restaurant, Ola Wyola, and the non-profit POCAAN. The mural, she says, was COVID related because “A: It’s an inspiring, positive message for the community and B: it also serves as a way to pay an artist who’s been struggling through the COVID crisis like everyone.”
After Sam Sneke was chosen by the businesses he submitted four different designs, and the businesses overwhelmingly chose “Power to the People.” Trbovich said that the Seattle Neighborhood Group really wanted to help facilitate the mural but that it was also crucial that businesses at the intersection of Rainier and Genesse made the final decision. “We wanted the businesses along that road to really make the decision, to have that power to be in the driver’s seat. It’s their mural, it’s their community, they’re the ones that are there day in and day out, so we really wanted to focus on giving them the opportunity to be a part of that.”
Artist Sam Sneke started the mural on Friday August 22 and by Saturday August 23 the words “Power to the People” were displayed boldly on the wall along Rainier Avenue, for the community and everyone driving by to be inspired by.
Update: Due to the snow, the original Friday, Feb. 8 opening of “3 Queens,” has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21.
Crick Lont, aka Dozer of Dozer Art and Dozer’s Warehouse, has been quietly curating upcoming shows, painting walls and drizzling on the funky linoleum floors a la Jackson Pollock to create an art space on Beacon Hill. He’s partnering with local artists to put their mark on the storefront, pro bono; Leo Shallot’s trademark calligraphy ribbon design in gold on black wraps around the storefront. “That’s what’s so great about this place, people just want to be a part if it,” Lont said.