Visual

Bricks and Bakers

McKenzie Alley Mural Project

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

What’s this? A new mural being painted in Fairhaven?

Not to miss observing the process, I recently hustled over to McKenzie Alley to discover artist Anne Schreivogl—looking somewhat out of place—perilously working two stories up on a scissor lift.

Here was the well-known, award-winning studio painter transforming the century-old, orange-colored brick located between the historic district’s 12th and 11th streets, creating a scene of cartoonish bakers rolling dough, hungrily watched from high above by a whimsical pair of cats—perhaps they were hoping for anchovy pizza? Meanwhile, in a different, realist style—very trompe l’oeil—a young woman appeared to gaze upon the scene from her brick “window.”

Murals are no artistic novelty. Roman villas and cityscapes bloomed with them and Renaissance artists spent their careers on ladders and scaffolds decorating cathedral ceilings. Until only a century ago, “real” painting still meant working with buckets of color on hundred-foot walls.

Schreivogl served her muralist apprenticeship last spring in Los Gatos, California. She says she was ready for a challenge. And although she lives in Anacortes, she’s no stranger to Bellingham, where she attended Western Washington University a few decades ago.

With the help of improvement funds from the City of Bellingham, the public-spirited owner of the historic Fairhaven building commissioned Schreivogl to make the alley space more inviting with a colorful mural, hoping it might also reduce vandalism and graffiti. It took her six days to complete. The final two were spent filling in the colorful creation with blueberries, birds, butterflies and desserts.

Mural painting doesn’t pay as well as studio work, but Schreivogl says although it was both mentally and physically harder than she had expected, she still found it to be a whole lot of fun. But by the end of day two, she’d learned how exhausting it can be, and limped home like she’d “done a hundred squats.” From that point, she determined not to leave paint and supplies on the ground where she had to “stoop and reach for them constantly.”

Owing to the demands required to paint murals, Schreivogl says she thinks she’ll limit the number of these projects to a half-dozen a year. That said, the public nature of the work meant she could see firsthand the direct, positive impact of the alley art upon the community. Several locals thanked her as she worked.

One woman, Schreivogl says, came out on her balcony—which faces the new work of art—to exclaim, “I am so excited! I’ve been staring at that blank wall for years!”

To find out more about Anne Schreivogl’s body of work, go to http://fidalgo.net/~aes/Anne_Schreivogl_artist/Home.html

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