Edmonds, WA, September 8, 2021 – If you are anywhere near 4th Ave North this week you’ll have the privilege of seeing muralist Shogo Ota in action as he installs Mural Project Edmonds’ (MPE’s) latest mural. This mural, reminiscent of the Japanese woodblock prints that are a unique Japanese art form, is in recognition of the special relationship between Edmonds and her Sister City – Hekinan, Japan.

For this project, MPE has partnered with Urban Artworks, a Seattle nonprofit that creates public art by embracing the creativity and diversity of the community and has a deep commitment to cultural and racial equity. Through Urban Artworks, MPE has procured the talented Shogo Ota, a Japanese muralist to create the mural. It was through Shogo’s unparalleled creativity and knowledge of the Japanese culture that the mural was designed.

Muralist, Shogo Ota, as he traced the mural the night of September 8, 2021. Source: Art Walk Edmonds.

“We originally came to the table wanting a mural of waves similar to the image of Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” said MPE chair Denise Cole. “It was Shogo who told us that an image of a large wave might be trigger memories of the 2011 tsunami waves that devastated many Japanese coastal areas, most notably in the Tōhoku region.”

The new mural will include waves, but the focal point will be a large heron, thus tying Edmonds into the Japanese imagery.

Edmonds and the city of Hekinan, Japan established a relationship on April 5, 1988 with the goal of fostering exchanges that reflect our intercultural focus between business, education and nonprofit organizations in the local area. The Sister City Commission has sent and hosted student exchange delegations, adult exchange delegations, and an Assistant Language Teacher.

The goal of this mural was to not only recognize Edmonds’ Sister City of Hekinan, but to also bring attention to Asian American diversity and the history of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

Japanese immigrants first started arriving in the PNW in the 19th century to fill the demand for labor industries such as railroads, mining, timber and fisheries. However, World War II spawned a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment, and many Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to assembly centers. After the war, many returned to their homes, but official reparations were not provided until 1988. (Read more about the history here.)

Along with the creation of this mural, an ambitious augmented reality project will also be created later this year. Thanks to Workshop 3D, those with a smart phone will be able to see “live” interviews with the muralist and others which can be accessed through a QR code placed at the site of the mural. Learn more about this project here.

The mural is made possible this year due to grant from City of Edmonds Arts Commission as well as a donation from the McMurray family.

Mural Project Edmonds (MPE), a committee of Art Walk Edmonds, has been responsible for new murals in downtown Edmonds for the past few years. The overall goal of the new MPE is to bring professional-level, well-planned artistry to our community and to fit appropriately into the chosen space.

The process to put up a mural is a long and arduous one. Mural Project Edmonds is committed to installing murals that will stand the test of time. This means themes and locations are thoroughly vetted to enhance their surroundings. Then the muralist is chosen based on their style and experience. The artists hired must have a proven track record with outdoor mural experience, must use high-quality materials that will withstand outdoor exposure, and must adhere to the City’s strict permitting codes.

MPE has its sights set on next year’s mural project: a tribute to all the essential workers. Preliminary plans for this mural are underway. Anyone interested in donating to the Art Walk Edmonds can do so online at  www.artwalkedmonds.com/donate. Companies or entities interested in sponsoring a new mural should contact Art Walk Edmonds at info@artwalkedmonds.com.

The Mural Project Edmonds’ mission statement: To develop a comprehensive plan for the implementation of professional murals, seeking out appropriate locations for exterior wall murals that enhance and do not detract from the beauty, scale and sense of place of the city of Edmonds. With community involvement, we will seek art which is sensitive to each specific location and the history, diversity, and character of the City in a visually cohesive manner.

Art Walk Edmonds is held monthly year-round in the picturesque waterfront town of Edmonds. It consists of new art displayed all month long and an Art Walk held on the third Thursday. With multiple downtown galleries and businesses hosting local and regional artists, Art Walk Edmonds attracts visitors from throughout the greater Seattle metropolitan area. This non-profit 501(c)(3) organization’s mission is to expose the regional community to all types of art, including fine art to music, dance, theatre, performance art, culinary art, and the written word.

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