Morgan Community Association report #1: Entrepreneur pursuing mural-saving plan

This week’s quarterly Morgan Community Association meeting was so wide-ranging (as usual), we’re breaking it into two reports. This first one is something you’ll be hearing more about soon:

(WSB file photo)
You might recognize that mural from the back of the commercial building on the southwest corner of California and Fauntleroy. Dan Austin, who owns one of the businesses in that building – Peel and Press – told MoCA on Wednesday night that he’s leading a project to save the mural, painted by Bruce Rickett a quarter-century ago, as mentioned in this 1990 Seattle Times story. And “save” is the word, not just “restore” – Austin said it’s falling apart, and one more winter of rain/wind against the west-facing mural – which depicts the mid-1920s Morgan Street Market – might just peel some of it away.

He told MoCA he’s consulted with Peter Malarkey, who – as we showed you last month – recently restored the mural inside the Colman Pool building. Austin said there’s “a game plan” that he’ll be presenting to various civic organizations. He said that if this works, he would hope it would lead to a “blueprint” for action that could be shared with others in West Seattle to maybe get more of the local murals restored, especially the ones in The Junction.

The first sum of money that would be needed, $2,500, would stabilize the mural to get through the winter. From there, Austin said, there’ll be various price points for various stages of saving the mural, with the total restoration cost around $35,000. And yes, he confirmed, he’s talking to other tenants, including the building’s biggest one, Starbucks.

After Austin spoke, MoCA passed a motion in support of the project and lauded him for taking it on.

Coming up in report #2, more from the meeting, which had begun with an SPD update on the local arsons, as the most-recent one had happened in Morgan; we quickly added video of the briefing to what was at the time our most recent followup.

8 Replies to "Morgan Community Association report #1: Entrepreneur pursuing mural-saving plan"

  • Fregirl October 23, 2015 (3:42 pm)

    35000 to save one mural??? What does all that cost entail? Can we get some bids on that? My grandfather used to restore such grand murals not that long ago, some even larger, and his price was a quarter of that kind of cost. And his restorations even from 20 years ago look fresh as daisies. Alas he died a few years ago or I’d fly him out here! Could we not get the parties involved to donate materials and effort, or have community contributions? Yikes that cost of restoring one mural is a whole persons income for a year.

    • WSB October 23, 2015 (3:59 pm)

      Fregirl, Dan Austin indicated at the meeting he’d been doing a lot of research on this, including talking with potential donors, etc. If you have ideas, I’m certain he’d welcome hearing from you – it sounds like the kind of project that will take a village, aka community help. He briefed MoCA not to ask them for money but to ask for support for the concept and to tell the community council that this is in the works. – TR

  • Cid October 23, 2015 (4:27 pm)

    Love the murals. Sad to see them neglected. Wasn’t the one on the Post Office restored? Does anyone know how much it cost?

  • Dan October 23, 2015 (6:00 pm)

    Great questions! There have been two schools of thought on the mural. One would be a paint by number style where an artist would repaint over the top and call it a day. It is less expensive but it also takes out the original artist interpretation and in general is frowned on by artists and preservationists. Most artists I have spoken to flat our refused to do it.

    The second school of thought is to save the actual original art. In talking with different stakeholders this was by far the preferred option. The Post Office mural was redone by the original artist of that project. To date we have not been able to make contact with the original artist on this project but he lives out of the country so getting him here might be impossible. I have already received commitments for donations and will be looking to fund this with private money. No tax dollars at work here, just good old fashioned fundraising. If you have ideas or thoughts feel free to reach out and share. Take a look the next time you are in the parking lot at the top left corner and see the large section of paint getting ready to fall off. Doing nothing is no longer an option. $2500 stabilizes all large sections of paint that are coming off and ensures no major damage over the winter. The second round of funding would address all small section of loose paint, pigment saturation and stabilization, touching up of areas of paint loss, and a protective UV/weather varnish layer to protect the mural for generation to come. As West Seattle keeps changing it would be great to keep this piece of art and neighborhood history intact. If you would like to help out stay tuned and we will find ways to get you involved.


  • M October 23, 2015 (6:22 pm)

    Didn’t the association receive some money in the settlement with the apartments (with zero parking) that are about to be complete. I thought that money was to go for projects like this? No?

  • Jacob October 24, 2015 (10:51 am)

    Murals are cool.

    How much would it cost to get a new mural painted by a local artist?

    What is historically significant about this mural that makes it worth the extra restoration effort?

  • Dan October 24, 2015 (7:30 pm)

    Many locals including Earl Cruzen and Ken Olson worked really hard to create the Murals of West Seattle and it was an admirable effort to try to keep West Seattle tied to it’s history. As we all see on a daily basis West Seattle is losing parts of it’s past to development and keeping these connections to our neighborhoods is part of what makes West Seattle what it is. Also, the assistant artist on this project was a local by the name of Moe Beerman. These folks worked hard to make the murals a reality and many of us would hate to see them painted over or lost do to neglect. If this mural had been cared for over the years this project wouldn’t be that expensive or nearly as much work. The hope is to bring it back and inspire others to work on the rest of the murals before they get this bad.

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