After about two and a half years since its inception, the mural is now up around the silos at the CalPortland concrete plant along Highway 522 in Kenmore.
The canvas, which features “Heron’s View” by Joe Wuts, went up Oct. 6.
“It is up. It looks like, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing,’” said Dennis Mendrey.
Mendrey is with Hwy 522 Beautification Projects. According to its website, the group was formed to add color and character to Kenmore “through creation of high-profile art and beautification projects” along Hwy 522, which runs through the city.
The Beautification Projects group was borne out of a workshop called “For the Love of Kenmore” in April 2015 during which residents and community members were encouraged to look at the city in a positive way and come up with ways to engage the greater community in something fun.
Mendrey said the idea to decorate the concrete silos was mentioned as a joke but it was the idea that received the most support at the workshop.
Now that the mural is up, Mendrey has been feeling a number of things, including stunned that they really pulled off the project.
A COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP
Mendrey is also thankful the project is complete as it has been a long process that has included working with CalPortland and figuring out what the concrete plant would be responsible for (the plant’s responsibilities include maintenance of the mural for five years). He said he is thankful for how the CalPortland has engaged with their group on the project and that the company just wants to be a good neighbor in the Kenmore community.
As previously reported, the concrete plant has been the cause of concern regarding pollution and when the mural project was announced, not everyone was happy as some saw it as the community celebrating air pollution.
“Even I wanted to get rid of them,” Mendrey admits about CalPortland.
In response to these concerns, Pete Stoltz, manager of permitting and government affairs with CalPortland, said environmental compliance and safety is the number one job for the company and they comply with all regulatory permits. He added that the site does not emit toxic pollution into the environment and they are sorry that some people do not like that CalPortland is in Kenmore.
Stoltz said putting the mural up around the silos was about making the silos more aesthetically pleasing and doing something positive. He said the company was happy to work with the Beautification Projects group.
While he may not have been CalPortland’s biggest fan before the mural project began, Mendrey shares Stoltz’s sentiment after having worked with the company on the project. He added that with how much money was raised for the project, CalPortland put up more to cover expenses that has included paying their employees to put up the mural.
Stoltz said Mendrey’s group worked with engineers at CalPortland to figure out how to put up the mural. They ended up using a cable to put up the mural, which was hung without a hitch.
“There were no issues there,” Stoltz said about the process.
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE
The process to get the mural up also included finding a vendor that would be able to produce the artwork on a large scale and working with the City of Kenmore to get the right permits approved for each phase of the project.
Another large part of the process was coming up with the design.
Mendrey said they put out a call to artists in January for entries. They received about three dozen entries, which were winnowed down to 10 semifinalists.
As previously reported, these final 10 pieces were on display in an exhibit in the Kenmore City Hall Gallery from March 17 through May 11 and community members were able to vote on their favorite designs.
More than 360 people voted and “Heron’s View” received the most votes.
BRINGING PEOPLE TO KENMORE
There is also an ongoing online fundraising effort to pay for the project, its maintenance and future projects. To donate or learn more, visit www.gofundme.com/letsbeautifythis.
Mendrey said their group’s goal is to create a “mobile art gallery” with a dozen or so art pieces along the highway corridor so residents and commuters alike will have something different to look at as they drive through Kenmore.
The group — whose members, Mendrey said, are all volunteers — is already working with other businesses along Hwy 522 to bring more art along the corridor.
While Beautification Projects group members do most of the the legwork, Arts of Kenmore — an organization that supports art in Kenmore through grants to schools, public art and art education and support — helps them with administration work such as handling contracts and invoices.
Tricia Woods, Arts of Kenmore president, said they also provide support by promoting Hwy 522 Beautification Projects and the group’s work on its website and social media channels.
Woods hopes the installation of the mural on the CalPortland site, as well as the additional pieces they are planning, dresses up the corridor a bit and adds “some pizzazz.”
“Things feel kind of drab,” she said. “We just want to add some color.”
Woods also hopes this color brings more people to come to Kenmore to see the art and then stay to visit local businesses and eat at local restaurants.
“I’m hoping that we’ll create some of that,” she said. “I just want to get people here.”