A year and a half ago, we published that photo, with disheartening news: One of West Seattle’s historic murals had been vandalized in a big way. Other defacement followed. No official cleanup plan was finalized. But now, suddenly, unofficially, that mural – on the north side of 4740 44th SW, along the south side of The Junction’s southernmost free parking lot – has been cleaned up:
We got first word last night from Guy and Joy Smith, best known for sharing interesting news from Alki Point. They wrote:
We go to dinner at Elliott Bay Brewery every Monday night. We always park in the lot to the west of Northwest Art and Frame. We’re happy when we get there, but everything is ruined when we see the graffiti on the big mural to the south.
Last Monday when we pulled in the lot, there was a woman taking photos of the graffiti and we could tell that she was not a happy camper. We asked her what she was up to and she said she reached the boiling point with the ever-increasing graffiti. She was on a mission to do something about it. It turns out she is a muralist and she knew she could fix it. She also said she was afraid she might get in trouble for doing it. …
When we drove into the parking lot (last night), we were dumbfounded to see that there was no more graffiti on the mural and it didn’t show any signs that any had ever been there.
We had to see it firsthand to believe it – and indeed, there it was, or should we say, there it wasn’t. Our “after” photo was taken just before sunset last night.
Before publishing this, we checked with two people we thought might know something about it. Clay Eals, former executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, and Lora Swift, executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association. Guy and Joy said they had told the woman about taking a mural tour with Eals (who led several last year), and suggested she talk with him; she said she knew him. Contacted by us, he said he had seen the cleanup early Monday and wondered about it, but didn’t know for sure who was responsible. Swift, meantime, was completely surprised by the news. (Guy and Joy, meantime, said the artist had given them a name; we’re not publishing it unless we can confirm it, and so far, no response to our inquiry.)
Meantime, as Eals points out, while this is “a positive step,” the future of West Seattle’s murals – 20+ years old and showing wear, aside from the restored mural on the Junction Post Office wall – remains clouded. He wrote about it in summer of last year, after the aforementioned tours. The questions he asked at the end remain unanswered, and waiting for someone to step forward (aside from the Morgan Junction mural that has a restoration project in the planning stage).
P.S. If the rogue mural-cleaner is reading this, Eals and Swift both said they’re glad about it – so you’re not in trouble.