Going Public

Outdoor art for everyone

Monday, November 23, 2020

Throughout December, I aim to shine a light on artists who are offering creative ways for people to shop locally for the holidays. But for now, a roundup of outdoor murals and installations that have recently been completed seems like a good way to celebrate a holiday season in which people are being urged to stay at least six feet away from each other.

The introductory line item comes courtesy of the Ferndale Arts Commission (, who in recent weeks have added a trio of privately funded murals to the city’s downtown streetscapes, joining several other works of art that have popped up in the urban core during the past two years.

A sprawling underwater scene painted by Ferndale resident Jennifer Dunn on the back of the Washington Federal bank building facing Alder Street was the first to be finished. Dunn says the parking-lot-turned-aquarium was a pleasure to complete. “I sincerely hope this lighthearted mural filled with fish and a fun change in perspective brings as much joy to our community as I had in creating it,” she adds.

Artist Bruce Todd’s rendition of a giant tree with sprawling branches was the next to be completed. Located on the vacant building adjacent to Ferndale City Hall and the library, Todd also painted a selfie-ready backdrop comprised of whimsical wings meant to be used as an interactive backdrop for people’s own pictures.

The newest mural, Kelly Hoekema’s “Tennant Lake,” can be found on the side of FrinGe Brewing, which also faces Alder Street. A stately owl presides over the celebration of local flora and fauna, while ducks, giant dragonflies and a couple of great blue herons linger contentedly among the foliage.

In Bellingham’s Fountain District, view a new four-panel mural highlighting the thoughts and concerns of fourth-grade students from Sunnyland and Birchwood elementary schools. Located on the side of Bellingham Wind Works across from the historic fountain location, the installation is comprised of kids’ photos and comments that came from in-class and journal exercises that accompanied an educational drama project, “From a Child’s Point of View” ( The accessible art focusing on subjects both personal and global will be up through October 2022.

Finally, keep an eye (and ear) out for what’s happening in the alleyway between Mindport Exhibits ( and the Wild Buffalo. The Holly Street locale has recently transformed into an outdoor installation named “Songs for Five Zones,” and can be experienced from 4pm-10pm daily through Dec 27.

The project consists of a six-channel recording based on five regional habitat zones being broadcast through speakers housed in sculptural cases. It came about due to a collaboration between artists Sasha Petrenko, Cynthia Camlin, as well as more than two dozen of their students in Western Washington University’s Department of Art and Art History, and will remain as long as the technology survives the elements.

“We wanted a way to share art with the broader Bellingham community during the pandemic when so many of our normal ways to experience art, music and dance are unsafe or prohibited,” Petrenko says. “Mindport agreed to allow us up on their roof and into their hearts.”

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