Seattle-based artist, Kristen Ramirez, was inspired by the community of Bothell and the architecture of the Wayne Tunnel on the Burke-Gilman Trail as she designed the artwork now gracing the inside of the tunnel.
“I noticed that the people going through the tunnel were joggers and bikers passing through quickly,” she said. “I thought about how the weather is usually rainy and the fact that the tunnel is dark.”
Ramirez painted the tunnel using bright bold colors, such as yellow, orange and red.
“My biggest hope is that it will inspire people and give them a splash of beauty in their life,” she said. “I hope it makes them stop for a minute and appreciate their surroundings.”
King County Parks and 4Culture wanted to have the inside of the tunnel painted to bring culture to the community and to discourage graffiti, a growing problem in the tunnel, according to a 4Culture spokesperson.
“The Regional Trails System, commissioned by 4Culture, outlines a comprehensive vision for the creation of public art and integrated design features that will make the network more distinctive, attractive and unique,” wrote Project Manager Jordan Howland in a media statement. “Art and design enhancements can improve the trail experience and expand its use, as well as better connect King County’s trail developments to local trail-side communities.”
Ramirez was selected for this opportunity through a competitive process open to artists residing in Washington and Oregon. A panel of community stakeholders reviewed 52 applications and interviewed four finalists before awarding her the commission.
“As soon as I saw the tunnel I knew I wanted to be a part of painting it,” Ramirez said. “It is an awesome canvas and I thought it would be amazing to do.”
Ramirez is a Seattle-based printmaker, painter and public artist who makes work about place and everyday experiences. She earned a bachelors of arts degree from UC Santa Cruz, a masters in education and California Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University, and a master of fine arts in Printmaking from the University of Washington. She has exhibited her studio work extensively and is an active public artist, working predominantly in murals.
In addition to her work at Pratt Fine Art Center and Edmonds Community College, Ramirez worked at Cornish College of the Arts teaching Visual Art Foundations and managing the Cornish pre-college summer program.
“The volunteers who have come to help me paint over the past nine days have been incredible,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez drew an outline of her design, then had volunteers from the community and other places in the county come help.
“There is no way I could have done this alone,” she said. “It would have taken me so long. It’s great to have neighbors and friends of the trail helping so I can get their perspective.”
Ramirez said she has seen many “regulars” of the trail come through during her time painting.
“I got to know the bikers, joggers and people that come here every day to enjoy the trail,” she said. “The sense of community in Bothell and the love of the area was so great to experience.”