Comment from Julie McDonald: Murals Attract Selfie Photographers, Complaints Against Parking Lot Design

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By Julie McDonald / For The Chronicle

Visitors to downtown Chehalis can don wings for flights – at least fancy – by posing for photos in front of the new winged “Lifting Up Chehalis” mural on the side of the M&K Town store on the corner of Market Boulevard and of Boistfort Street.

“We were looking for concepts that would encourage people to take a photo with the artwork, creating a kind of ‘selfie wall’,” said Annalee Tobey, executive director of the Chehalis Community Renaissance Team (CCRT).

A CCRT committee selected the “Lifting Up Chehalis” design by artist Emily von Flotow from six submitted.

“These designs are popular and create another reason to visit our downtown area,” she said.

Tobey saw teenage girls heading to proms last weekend taking photos in front of the mural.

“I liked it!” she said. “I saw a few of them on Facebook later and it warmed my heart.”

The pandemic and business closures have proven to be difficult for the community, but Tobey said, “This mural brings joy and light happiness. It’s fun – and we could all use more fun these days.

Owner Jerry Lord helped select the mural. The process involves the CCRT, which pays the costs, and the building owners. The August 6 request for proposals lists compensation at $ 1,200, excluding paint. CCRT provided the paint and the primer.

As I took a photo of Sharon Eastman, a 30-year-old employee of Spiffy’s Restaurant & Bakery who now works at M&K Town Store and Sweet Inspirations, we saw a woman further up north-east of Boistfort posing for a photo in front of the daisies and the butterfly mural on the side of Market Street Bakery. Irisa Kennedy completed this mural, called Garden Delight, in August 2020.

But not everyone is happy with the murals on offer for downtown Chehalis.

At a Renaissance team meeting on Friday morning, Jo Kuehner, who is restoring San Juan’s century-old apartments on Northeast Cascade Avenue, objected to the chosen design of murals on three sections of a retaining wall in cement in the city parking lot C, behind the Boulangerie de rue market at the corner of Boistfort and Washington Avenue. City officials offered the mural and offered to remove the plants and do a pressure wash in preparation.

A committee reviewed the proposals and selected a vintage floral design, which Tobey described as being in keeping with Chehalis as the pink city. The simple, unpretentious design would also not attract many pedestrians, which Tobey said could create a safety hazard in a parking lot. Compensation for the three murals is $ 3,200, excluding painting.

“I don’t feel any connection with the artwork there,” Kuehner said. “He’s not telling a story. That does not suit me.

“We go to a really big push to make sure that the work is selected by a committee of people because we understand that everyone has different tastes,” said David James, CCRT secretary and member of the promotion committee, in response to Kuehner’s comments. “We knew you were reluctant to put artwork on the wall next to your building. And when we did the illustrations, we tried to be mindful of that and choose something respectful, tasteful, and classic.

Kuehner said the artwork could be offensive to many people in the alley, which itself has a rich history that few people know. The triangular San Juan building erected by Art St. John of St. John’s Garage has an underground tunnel for communal heating, connecting the apartments to the old garage on Market Boulevard. Scott and Casey Forsman of City Farm Chehalis now own this building.

“I have 25 years of experience in marketing, and I know what I’m saying, and I just don’t feel like there’s a story,” Kuehner said. “I don’t feel like the flowers on a 40 foot wall are improving around my building.”

Scott Forsman agreed.

“She just did wonderful things in her alleyway, and she really wants to see it blend into her apartment building,” he said, noting that his neighbor has done an incredible job paying homage to his family and his husband, Karl “Bud” Kuehner. ”We would just love to see something that relates to this, especially using the color schemes that she used and just mixing them together, so that it doesn’t appear to be unique in the lot.”

Tobey said artists can mix colors to match neighboring buildings.

“We appreciate that, but I think it’s the model that seems to be the problem,” Kuehner said. “We offer a solid color.

She, the Forsmans, and Bob Hall along with the old St. Helens Hotel got together to pay for the lane cleaning, but they don’t like the proposed mural.

“It’s a fabulous alley,” Kuehner said. “We have invested a lot of time in this alley. Our alley is a really cool alley.

She noted that the students were using the alley for photos from the high school prom.

“We love old buildings,” she said. “I don’t want him to be ruined.”

She said she loved art, including the mural at Chehalis-Centralia Airport, which she said tells a story.

“I’m just trying to do better,” Kuehner said. “I think we need to have further discussions so that they are meaningful and beneficial for Chehalis.”

James, the secretary of the CCRT, said he didn’t want to upset building owners with a plan that offended them.

Earlier in the meeting, Randy Mueller, Chief Executive Officer of Chehalis Harbor, who plans to train his replacement before leaving on November 30 for Ridgefield Harbor, took stock and then looked at the murals in the center. city.

Thirty people applied for his position as Chehalis and, having narrowed it down to 12 and then five semi-finalists, he said the port commissioners now have three well-qualified finalists who will be interviewed on Wednesday. Port commissioners could decide on Mueller’s replacement at their meeting on Thursday.

After his report, Mueller raised the controversy over the Chehalis parking lot murals.

“From a port perspective, as well as from my personal perspective, we just couldn’t be bigger fans,” he said. “This kind of work is important. That’s what the Main Street programs do.

He noted that art is subjective.

“You will never make everyone happy,” he said. “Don’t lose faith. Just keep in mind that it was you who came forward… It’s really easy for people to get into quarterbacks and sit on the sidelines.

Mueller’s comments offended Kuehner.

“I think I should be heard,” she said. “I have served my sentence. I have lived here all my life since the third year. My husband and I have done great things in the community.

“It really hurts me to know that when you have a project like yours and I’ve worked so hard to make my building look good and to be a good citizen, I shouldn’t have the chance to have my say. to say before they start. painting, ”Kuehner said.

Tobey said the parking lot mural is on hold for now.

CCRT printed 2,700 copies of a 16-page coloring and activity book called Color Chehalis! for distribution to preschools, primary schools, local museums and other places. He’s also looking for artists to create Chehalis-themed postcards for local merchants to sell.

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Julie McDonald, personal historian of Toledo, can be reached at [email protected]


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