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Installation underway on new Spokane Arts programs for aspiring muralists!

Spokane Arts created three new mural programs this year to increase opportunities for less experienced artists to connect with public art projects, learn from experienced muralists, and gain valuable skills. Installation is underway now on a variety of these projects, putting local artists to work on murals large and small. Mural apprentices are working alongside experienced muralists on large scale court mural projects, and a mural workshop and mini-mural projects are creating first mural opportunities for a wide range of artists.

Installation began this past weekend on the first of six mini murals, part of a partnership with the City of Spokane to create fun and visible bike and scooter parking corrals. Local artist Jansen Niccals installed their mural design (and their first mural project) a colorful octopus outside the AM Cannon Park community pool. City of Spokane Assistant Planner Colin Quinn-Hurst worked with Spokane Arts staff to find locations for the six mini-murals as part of the ten new bike and scooter parking corrals being installed around Spokane. Quinn-Hurst noted the opportunity to integrate murals into the already planned bike parking improvements created more interest and excitement from neighboring businesses and community members. “The murals increase the curb appeal for people walking by and patrons of nearby businesses.” Six mini murals, roughly the size of a parking space, will be installed on the ground throughout the city in specifically designated sidewalk, parking lot, or street spaces to be used for bike and scooter parking. Bike racks will be installed after the murals are finished, and each of these murals are painted with grit-added paint to maintain a safely textured surface. (See below for all locations, artist names, and estimated install dates.)

The size alone of most public mural projects can be a barrier for artists that want to paint murals and have never worked on such a large scale. These mini mural projects allow artists to gain public art skills and experience, while working on a scale that is manageable. Four of the six artists will be painting their very first mural as part of this project. Artist Shelby Allison has worked with her frequent collaborator Susan Webber on mural projects in the past, but this will be a solo opportunity for her and the first time working on an asphalt art project. Erin Lang worked as an assistant on the Chief Garry court mural project (part of an ongoing partnership between Spokane Arts and Hooptown USA) in 2020, and this mini mural project is an opportunity for her to put the skills she gained from that project to work on her own design. Lang said, “A mural of my own has been my dream for a long time, and working on a project for the biking community just makes it that much better, two things I love so much it’s a dream come true.”

“Artists getting the chance to scale up from small paintings to collaborative work to their own larger projects is precisely the motivation in creating programs like these,” Spokane Arts executive director Melissa Huggins explains. “We’ve found there are often gaps between the scale of work that most artists are doing, and the large public art projects that a smaller group of artists have experience doing. We’re working to put some more stepping stones in place to fill those gaps.” 

The mural apprenticeship program gives an artist paid, hands-on experience working directly with a more experienced muralist on a large scale project. Spokane Arts hosted an open call this spring for artists interested in paid apprenticeships, which is currently open for another round of applications through the end of June. Two applicants were matched to work with muralist Joshua Martel (who paints under the name Oowah) on the North Bank basketball court complex mural project in Riverfront Park. Sara Conybeer and Greyson Hatcher were able to each work 50 hours alongside Martel, helping paint the over 10,000 square foot mural. Each now has experience working with the specialized sport court product used to paint this mural. This new apprenticeship program will be on-going, as a way to continually provide artists working on large public murals the opportunity to have fairly paid assistants, and for those less experienced artists to have the chance to spend a significant chunk of time working on the ins and outs of a mural installation. The apprenticeship is designed to include not only paid time painting but also support learning the other aspects that go into successfully getting and executing a mural job, including pricing, planning and design. The court mural project will be wrapping up this week in time for the ribbon cutting for the new court at Riverfront Park on Saturday, June 26 at 8 a.m.

Additional basketball court mural projects as part of an on-going partnership with Hooptown USA will be installed later this summer at Thornton Murphy Park (with lead artist Nick Goettling) and at Franklin Park, a new project with the Spokane Tribe and the Spokane Indians Baseball Team with lead artist Ruben Marcilla. Both of these court projects will also be opportunities for Spokane Arts to provide paid mural apprentices and assistants to work with the lead artists on installation. Native artists who are interested in paid mural apprenticeships can contact Spokane Arts via or (509) 321-6244.

Another opportunity for artists to learn directly from a more experienced muralist is through a mural workshop. While the apprenticeship might give someone 50 hours over a month working on one large mural installation project, a workshop gives artists the chance to go through each step of a mural on a small scale in just a few days. Working with Downtown Spokane Partnership and building management Goodale & Barbieri at the Banner Bank Building on Post Street, Spokane Arts is partnering with artist Tiffany Patterson in what is hoped to be the first of an on-going series of free mural workshops with a variety of muralists teaching small group classes. Program Manager Mika Maloney is particularly excited to be helping make this program a reality. “Artists will leave the workshop not only with a better understanding of a lot the details that go to into creating a mural, but also with a completed mural that they can include on their resume and in their portfolio. This project is great because it allows Spokane Arts to both provide a free learning opportunity for interested artists, a paid teaching opportunity for an experienced mural artist, and the whole city has a fun new mural to enjoy!” The workshop will take place at the end of June, with six artists each working on their own design, with a simple, unified color palette to connect the small individual sections into one large mural. Watch for the installation this Saturday, June 26 in the alley at 111 N Post Street.


For immediate release, Thursday, June 24, 2021

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