By Alec Dietz | Lynnwood Times Staff
Just a week into the process of putting up two murals honoring the Coast Salish People who once inhabited Edmonds, local artist and muralist Andy Eccleshall and the Mural Project Edmonds (MPE) have called the project their “most ambitious” to date.
Eccleshall, sponsor John Osberg, consultant Ty Juvinel, and a large group of volunteers have been working through the concepts, designs, and potential locations for the mural for well over 18 months. After scouting out every available location in Edmonds, the group has begun the process of putting up the mural in the alleyway between Bop N Burger and The Papery on Main Street.
While Eccleshall is responsible for designing and painting the murals, he has been helped every step of the way by Native American artist and member of the Tulalip tribes, Juvinel. Both Osberg and Eccleshall recognized that they would not be able to paint the mural without the help of Juvinel.
“All matters relating to how the history and culture of the Coast Salish people are represented have been and will continue to be guided and directed by [Juvinel],” Eccleshall said. “I am honored to be able to be a part of this project and to be able to work alongside Ty to see these murals come to fruition.
“I’m just the guy with the brush.”
A consultant for the project, Juvinel said it was important that Mural Project Edmonds and Eccleshall reached out to help tell all sides of the story. Most times, he says, he is asked about his thoughts on a piece of art after it is already finished, which was not the case with this mural project.
“When you have the opportunity to make history in a painting reflective of history, I find it to be refreshing, and it gives me hope that the Salish story can be told and history can be told through our people,” Juvinel said.
The west-facing mural will depict a large scene looking west toward the Olympic Mountains at sunset with a fishing party on the water. The east-facing mural, which will make use of the full height of the building, will depict the beach before the town of Edmonds was established, with a beach camp by the water.
Along with a large group of people walking by to admire the early goings of the project, Senator and Lieutenant Governor candidate Marko Liias also visited with Eccleshall and MPE Monday afternoon.
Senator Liias said that along with the important work that the city of Edmonds had done with its Edmonds Creative District, the work that Art Walk Edmonds and local artists are doing, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been invaluable to the local community.
“The [Edmonds] Creative District kind of helps become the glue that holds it all together and for Edmonds to go first has really helped, because now there are five statewide and another four or five being announced,” Liias said. “I think it’s a really great way to think about art, as not something that’s just good to look at, but economic development as a way to create a community, a vibrant community. [Art] brings people together to talk about difficult subjects like colonialism and what has happened on these lands.”
According to ArtsWA, “Creative Districts helps Washington communities thrive. This award-winning program works to grow the creative sector. It helps communities turn cultural activities into economic growth.”
This particular mural project was mostly funded by the donations of John Osberg, a local resident, and was put together by MPE, which funds most of its murals through donations and its wine walk events. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the wine walks and other events have been cancelled, putting a pin in future plans for projects.
“Making sure we protect our creative class of people in this state through this crisis is really, really critical,” Liias said. “The solutions are going to have to be tailored to the unique circumstances.”
Liias also cited the importance of art’s role in preserving history, and said that it was important for him and others to see art honoring indigenous tribes in the area to understand the history of Edmonds before it was incorporated 130 years ago.
“[The Tulalip people] are really engaged with how we protect salmon and how we protect the resources that are here?” Liias said. “When you look at this [mural], you can see why they have that spiritual connection to the land.
“I think our society isn’t as connected to what was here and what we need to preserve.”
After running into several challenges throughout the preliminary process, including repairing damage to one of the proposed wall’s and working to get the right permits and permissions to paint the murals, Eccleshall has finally begun the final stages of the long process, which could take another three weeks. He will continue to work with Juvinel throughout the rest of the detail work and process.
“I am excited to begin work on this project,” Eccleshall said. “I hope when completed it will invite people to stop and think about the vast history of this place, that the history is not only represented by the city we now love, but in the water, the mountains, the wildlife, the nature and the culture which has called this place home forever.”
“Art is a way to capture history and display it for everybody in a more digestible manner,” Juvinel agreed.
After visiting the mural on Tuesday, 21st Legislative District Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self provided the following statement to the Lynnwood Times:
“I am excited to personally see the Coastal Salish mural. I encourage us all to honor those who were here before us, whose land we stand on. The mural will be a reminder of the families and children who sustained, protected and lived off the lands and ocean we now call home, and a reminder of their rich history. Our children benefit when we work together to remember our diverse history. May we all work together to remember the past and fight for an inclusive future.”