I love the mural on the street-side wall of the Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on South 56th Street in Tacoma. The mural colors attract the eye and the walls and trim of the building itself lend support to the image as a whole.
Painting on walls is nothing knew. Our ancestors started that venture thousands and thousands of years ago as they expressed themselves on the sides of caves where they lived. In the United States the first large-scale mural, created as public art, was painted on a building wall in 1932.
In Tacoma, a city with many alleys, quite often murals decorate walls facing an alley. Unfortunately, garbage bins are sometimes so numerous they block the view of the art work. This photo taken on a Sunday morning in September of the eastern wall of the Old Milwaukee Café, shows a stylized passenger train headed west through a peaceful valley along a fast moving river. The two recycle containers and the one refuse container add depth and interest to the painting.
The sidewall of the Malcolm X Center located on MLK commemorates the Hilltop area and Black history (and mine) at the same time. This wonderful mural shares history with Buffalo Soldiers, people, pictures and news articles: The Fish House Café (great fish and chips) is just down the street. One article mentions Wood’s Barbershop, which is where Peg and I took our first foster child, Terrance (who was black) for his first haircut. My father worked as the office manager for Howard Chapmen Plumbing and Heating just kitty-corner from the barber shop. He also did the books for Reiser’s Drugs directly across the street from Woods. We lived a little over half a mile away on South Ferry.
I have no idea what the mural on the side of the Antique Sandwich Company means, but it is interesting. The mermaids look like Native Americans. I’ve walked the shores of Owen Beach enough over the years to recognize the seaweed and of course we have our fabled Tacoma Narrows Bridge Octopus depicted in the painting as well. In the lower right-hand corner of the photo is a metal bench/bike rack created by artist Jennifer Weddermann (it looks like it is all octopus arms). You’ll find several of these benches along North Pearl within the town of Ruston. A half mile away is our home were Peg and I have a custom metal sculpture created by Jennifer Weddermann entitled, Madrona Deer Park.
Last Stop Computers on Sixth Avenue has a whole house mural. The images continue down the walkway and retaining wall. As children, my cousin Lindy and I played on the rockery between the yard and the sidewalk.
Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home . . . this Ruston mural (on an alley) is easily seen driving east from North Pearl towards Point Ruston. I like the little aphid eater in mid-air with Puget Sound and Vashon Island below her. Ladybugs are helpful. They dine on sap feeding insects.
This mural faces the parking lot of Crescent Moon Gifts on Sixth Avenue. The front of the building has nice artwork as well.
On the side of Don’s Ruston Market & Deli (where you can buy classic candies, pop, and order hard ice cream sodas and more) is another insect. The dark background is faded a bit, but the flowers still look nice.
Love is waiting in another alley just off Sixth Avenue. I always say, love is where you find it. The front of the building has some nice artwork, but it looks more like graffiti.
If you park on the street, you’ll miss this fantastic mural on the east-side wall of Tacoma Little Theatre, now in its 100th season. If you walk through the parking lot of the next door convenience store you can stop and admire this painted ode to acting. It has character.
I hope you enjoy these images of local murals. If I missed your favorites, please take a photo and send me the image and its location as well as your name and why you like your mural. I’ll happily write a second mural article to showcase other walled art.