I love entering a town plastered with Wall Art Murals, especially when it is totally unexpected. Such was the case in April 2018 when I arrived in Olympia, WA to join some friends for breakfast on the first day of my return trip back to Lexington. While driving around to find parking for the Spar Cafe, I noticed that around almost every corner a new mural would make itself known.
Olympia claims to have over 70 murals dotting the city and even calls the city “A City of Murals.” I would have to concur. The city has also created a slick online map with pictures of the murals and their locations. You can see it here.
After breakfast, I made it a point to drive around the downtown area and capture as many photos as I could.
One of the most impressive and detailed of the murals I discovered was on the back side the Old School Pizzeria. My research found that it was painted by Christopher Ross, an artist from Seattle. He painted the 17 foot by 24 foot mural in 2002 based on an old Marvel Comics puzzle called “Marvel Super-Heroes Fantasy Jigsaw Puzzle” which the Pizzeria owner had. The mural features 132 life-size characters and is a replica of the puzzle box cover. It was of particular interest to me on two fronts. One – I currently work for as a Database Manager for ComicBook.com and so the comic book aspect was fun. Second – I discovered it as the big hit movie Avengers: Infinity War was getting ready to premiere (as of this writing the number one super-hero movie of all time in terms of ticket sales) The mural apparently took artist Ross 10 days to complete. Following are few shots of the whole and of sections.
In the same parking lot there is another unique mural entitled “Plankton Mural” by local artist Carrie Ziegler.
Not far from that one is the Puget Sound Estuarium, a marine life discovery center, with saltwater aquariums, interactive learning, and rotating exhibits. The colorful mural below is on the outside of the Estuarium and is also the work of Carrie Ziegler.
Olympia is apparently proud of the mural entitled the “Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural.” Unlike most murals I have seen around the country, this particular piece of art has its own website (see it here).
Located at the corner of State & Capital in Olympia WA, the mural is 4000 square feet and is an “interdisciplinary mural” that includes artwork from more than 200 participants from all over the world. According to its website, the “Project celebrates and mourns Rachel Corrie through action. Rachel was born in Olympia and killed in Gaza when run over by an Israeli driven bulldozer in 2003.”
The Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural was started in 2006 and then completed and dedicated in 2011. The mural depicts a large olive tree filled with 119 leaves of organizations from around the world, and a symbolic wave breaking the Israeli Separation Barrier. There are detailed photos of each leaf on the website for the mural.
Artist Michael Beeson painted the mural entitled Ganesha on the side of an Indian restaurant in 2014.
As if the Super-Hero mural were not enough, the Old School Pizzeria has another mural in the alleyway which is entitled Oly Cartoon Scene. It was Arthur Crews and friends. It is supposedly an altered reality of the citizens of Olympia.
Like other artists, Arthur Crews has painted other murals in the city.
Another work by Arthur Crews in collaboration with artists Vince Ryland and Ia Coynes, covers the east side of the Capitol Theater for the Olympia Film Society.
Olympia has a place called the Artesian Well and there is an abstract mural that covers the entire building front. The work was done by Jean Nagai in 2015.
And here are a few more photos from around the downtown area –
Obviously, I couldn’t get to them all. Maybe on my next trip to Washington I can. Olympia is an awesome town to visit. There will be more about Olympia included in a later post.
ENJOY THE RIDE! CHOOSE HAPPY!
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.