This post comes to us from Tara Katz, Director of Fremont Community School and the owner of Tara’s Tots (both in Wallingford).
Had you been walking around Wallingford Saturday June 4, over by the Good Shepherd Center’s Tilth Alliance, or down N 45th St, you may have noticed a small cluster of people and a dog being filmed as they traveled along. If you had known any better, you could have joined and walked along with them because these urbanites were meandering around the ‘hood, marveling at the local talent who have created public art using mosaics as their medium. Cemented onto stair treads, garden walls, benches and assorted other places these gems are visible for anyone walking by the right place.
This walking tour of Wallingford’s wonderful mosaic arts was organized as part of Visions of Wallingford, a community-led filmmaking project that is creating new ways for locals to explore the neighborhood, build relationships, and envision possible futures. The mosaic tour I attended was the first of the summer, and it brought together local artists and curious residents – like myself – to learn more about some about Wallingford’s vibrant mosaic community.
The tour was led by Majken Ryherd, a mosaic artist who has created mosaics across Wallingford, some of which we saw during the tour: the Boys and Girls Club mural on 45th Street, the “Take a Load Off Fanny” bench in Tangletown, to name just a couple. Bridget Culligan, a stained glass artist (and Majken’s neighbor) helped to host the tour, engaging Majken in conversation throughout.
We began at Seattle Mosaic Arts, located 5417 Meridian Ave N, and were greeted by Dr. Claire Barnett.
Claire opened the facility in 2009 on 45th St and recently moved into the new space. She founded the arts organization “to create community and support through shared creativity” – and it is here that many of our local artists come to join Claire in community and creativity. Seattle Mosaic Arts was the obvious choice to begin the tour, as it’s been such an important hub for artists in Wallingford and throughout the region.
After a couple pit stops to look at some of Majken’s public-facing art projects, we traveled south to Meridian Park. Here, we took a look at the Good Shepherd P-Patch sign, which is probably the easiest work of art to find as it is located near the gazebo, a stone’s throw from where the Wallingford Farmer’s Market is held every Wednesday. The sign, a magnificent piece that blends fused glass with mosaic, was created by Walt Mason, another local mosaic artist. Walt actually joined us for the tour, and spoke about his process for creating it. I think many of us can appreciate how the sign brightens up the P-Patch, the park, and the neighborhood as a whole.
As we walked through Wallingford marveling at the local talent, all of us on the tour felt pulled into the Wallingford community, and had a deep appreciation for the beauty on display. Boring walls were given a new lease with a bit of cement and broken glass and pottery. Floral forests bloom and underwater sea life swim in these glistening masterpieces.
One of our final stops was the well-known stairway mural at the corner of N 44th and Burke Ave N. If you haven’t been, you simply must go to marvel; aquatic and terrestrial delights await you, and perhaps Lynne DeLano, the gifted mosaic artist who created them, will come outside and say hello. She, too, joined us for the tour.
It was such a treat to have all of these wonderfully talented visual artists in one place, talking about and appreciating each other’s work together. Though I am not a mosaic artist myself, I now feel compelled to at least give it a try – what’s the worst that could happen? As Majken made clear during the tour, mosaic artists are often repurposing other people’s waste. Broken glass and old door knobs? Bring ‘em on!
There are more adventures awaiting those who are interested. The next tour, focused on homes and housing, is already filled up. But there are still tickets available for a tour of Wallingford’s waterways on July 28. Register now to reserve your spot on this free tour. To find out more about how to get involved with Visions of Wallingford – whether you want to walk and talk, or be on the film crew – you can email Ari Hock, the project organizer, at [email protected].
P.S. Have you seen any of these murals in the neighborhood? What do you think? Are there any others that you love? Tell us in the comments below!