Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The “father of West Seattle’s murals,” Earl Cruzen, was there not only in spirit but also in photo as his widow Adah Cruzen announced a big gift toward their restoration.
“He left me a bunch of zeroes,” Adah Cruzen quipped about her husband, who died last year at age 96. Five of them were on the ceremonial $100,000 check displayed this afternoon, as she joined community leaders at the foot of the mural that’s being restored right now in Morgan Junction.
The announcement was hosted by Lora Swift of the West Seattle Junction Association and Dan Austin of Peel & Press, whose restaurant is in the building that’s home to the Morgan mural that artist Bob Henry is now working on. (Added: Video of the event:)
As it began, both Swift and local journalist/historian Clay Eals told the story of the murals – 11 in all – that were painted in West Seattle between 1989 and 1993.
Swift said the money – plus community contributions, with a crowdfunding campaign to come – would “restart, restore, refinish” and return the murals’ historic scenes to West Seattle in all their glory.
Eals explained that he was the president of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s board at the time of the mural project.
“We were in the midst of history fever in West Seattle,” he explained, for a variety of reasons, and The Junction – home to 10 of the murals – “needed a tonic.” Earl Cruzen was inspired by murals he had seen traveling along the Northwest coast, as far north as British Columbia, and he had a “vision and a mission” to bring murals to West Seattle. So he “brought people together” while finding walls and money and artists. “The murals are his most prominent gift to our community.” They won awards, too, and played a big role in the final award of Earl Cruzen’s life, the 2014 Orville Rummel Trophy for Community Service, which Adah Cruzen carried in that year’s West Seattle Grand Parade (Earl was on doctor’s orders to stay home):
(2014 photo by Steve Fuller)
With the gift to the murals’ future, Eals said today, “Now, the murals will have new life … today is proof the West Seattle story will live on.”
It’s an “essential project,” agreed Jeff McCord, who succeeded Eals as executive director of the Historical Society. He also expressed hope of new future murals featuring historical West Seattle scenes – perhaps the Duwamish people, perhaps the truck farmers of Westwood.
Also at the podium, Dan Austin recalled how it’s been two and a half years since he started talking about getting the Morgan mural restored. Above him, Bob Henry – first introduced last month as the restoration artist – continued to work:
“Art is alive in West Seattle!” Austin exclaimed jubilantly, not only because of the restoration project but because of new work – Graves “Desmond” Hansen‘s signal boxes, starting with the Jimi Hendrix portrait just yards away; Jesse Link, with work on 3 West Seattle buildings so far – too. He said his simple goal was to save the Morgan mural and to perhaps set up a “blueprint” for “someone” to save others – and then he partnered with Swift, and the rest was, well, history. He also thanked major contributors toward the Morgan restoration, including building owner Frank Genzale and Ken Olsen, longtime proprietor of a drugstore in the building, who was at the announcement with daughter Pam:
As Morgan Community Association vice president Phil Tavel (below with MoCA president Deb Barker, and Austin in the background) enthused, “It’s a great moment for West Seattle!”
So what’s next? The Morgan restoration has more than a week of work to go. The other mural work is not yet scheduled, and is likely to cost a total of $195,000, so it’s now more than halfway to its goal, with crowdfunding and other fundraising measures ahead – you’ll hear more about those before the end of the month.
P.S. From the Junction Association, a full list of the murals:
Mural #1: West Seattle Ferries by Bill Garnet
4707 CALIFORNIA AVE SW
Mural #2: The Junction by Eric Grohe
4747 CALIFORNIA AVE SW
Mural #3: Midnight Call by Don Barrie (removed in 2016)
4713 44TH AVE SW
Mural #4: Mosquito Boat Landing by Susan Tooke
4554 CALIFORNIA AVE SW
Mural #5: The First Duwamish Bridge by Robert Dafford
4740 44TH AVE SW
Mural #6: Morgan Street Market by Bruce Rickett
6501 CALIFORNIA AVE SW 98136
Mural #7: Alki in the Twenties by Bruce Rickett (re-created in 2016)
4755 FAUNTLEROY WAY SW
Mural #8: Tuesday Bank Day by Alan Wylie
4501 CALIFORNIA AVE SW
Mural #9: The Hi Yu Parade by Lanny Little
4412 CALIFORNIA AVE SW
Mural #10: The Old Mud Hole by Mike Svob
4520 44TH AVE SW
Mural #11: Press Day by Alan Wylie
4727 44TH AVE SW
There’s more backstory on the murals here.