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  • Writer's pictureAmy

Tacoma City Mural

My second ever mural is visible in downtown Tacoma. Check it out on Broadway.

Spaceworks Rapid Mural Program

In 2020-2021 during the height of the pandemic Spaceworks decided to start a program called rapid murals. Rapid murals were paintings done on the boards that covered business' windows that were closed due to the pandemic.

I was accepted into this program and two sketches were approved. But then things started opening back up. It became harder to coordinate with the businesses and my murals kept getting postponed.

The Tollbooth Gallery

The tollbooth gallery is in downtown Tacoma on Broadway, right in front of the old Woolworth windows. This structure used to be a message board and then it was turned unconventional "gallery." The gallery would occasionally have a different paint job and/or video installation.

But it had been a long time since it had been changed and the tv that had video kept getting stolen.

Cue Spaceworks reaching out to me.

(pictured above: the before images of the tollbooth gallery)

The Call

It wasn't actually a call, it was an email. Gabriel, the head of the program, reached out Sunday night. There was still the rapid deadline. It needed to be done Saturday night.

In 2021 they had paid me for supplies so once we had a little chat about what I was going to do I ran off to buy supplies.

The Process

I started with spray paint because I knew it would be difficult to get an even coat of paint. I'm not sure that's true. I had no experience with spray paint and I might've been idealizing it. I guess I thought it would take less layers than a house paint. **I had to buy many cans of spray paint before it was evenly coated. (my husband, Mitchel, helped me a lot during spray painting. He is much better at it and has stronger hands).

(pictured above: the "tollbooth" after it had been spray painted).

I was super thankful that the design aspect of the mural fell right into place. It would have been much harder to meet a deadline if I'd been confused about my vision.

But I knew I wanted it to be "my" colors. I wanted it to be bright, refreshing and fun. And I had my original sketches as jumping off points. I altered them a bit and I changed the original wording. (the wording I chose are quotes from a dear friend who passed away in 2021).

(pictured above: process photos of painting the mural)

More on Process

I used a heavy construction paper from the hardware store (thanks for the tip mom) to make stencils. Then I was able to spray paint silver and white daisies all over + the words.

The word stencils were a little messy to read since letter are close together, so I outlined the last word with paint.

The paint I used was Behr paint from Home Depot. I got the sample colors of each ($6) and I didn't even come close to running out (which is saying something because a lot of the paints I had leftover from my last mural). The paintings needed at least 2, sometimes 3 layers to be even and opaque.

I brought a bucket of water to keep my brushes clean between colors.

I bought gem stones and faux fur online because I really wanted this thing to be a little silly coo-coo. The super glue was fairly easy to use until you got your fingers coated and it was hard to hold the gemstones anymore (Mitchel helped me bejewel as well).

(pictured above: the finished product. photos are compliments of Spaceworks)

In conclusion

Throughout the week Tacoma people were on Broadway. Every day I was met with friendly hellos and compliments. One guy bought a paint brush from me, which paid for my iced coffee <3

I also really appreciated the creative freedom and the thrill of finishing something so fast. I am a slow, realism painter. This project was much more fun pace. 10/10 would do again. I love that I've been allowed to make an impact on the city I love, even if it's temporary.


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