Above/featured: Facing east at The Junction: SW Alaska Street at California Avenue SW. At left (northeast corner) is the red-brick Campbell Building from 1911, oldest in the neighbourhood and a designated City of Seattle historic landmark since 2017.
What: Paintings depicting the history of West Seattle.
Where: In and around West Seattle’s The Junction.
Why: Arts project with community and pride.
Technically, West Seattle is an area consisting of several neighbourhoods within the city of Seattle. Historically, West Seattle feels separate, a peninsula separated from the centre by the flow of water and peoples along the Duwamish river valley. West Seattle had incorporated as its own city in 1902, before agreeing to annexation by Seattle in 1907.
One key to West Seattle is “The Junction”: an intersection of 2 former streetcar lines “West Seattle” and “Fauntleroy”. As expected, commercial activity took root at the intersection and although streetcars have vanished, the nickname has remained as a simple useful designation.
A product of West Seattle, retired businessman Earl Cruzen (1920-2017) launched a local arts and community project in the late-1980s, inspired after visiting other towns in Washington as well as Chemainus on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. Cruzen promoted the project with support among residents and business owners, generated fundraising efforts, and brought American and Canadian artists into the city to paint wall murals to highlight the history of people along the Duwamish river and the history of West Seattle. A total of 11 murals were painted, dedicated, and unveiled between 1989 and 1993.
Over time, the murals deteriorated and faded without touchup or maintenance. Members of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society engaged the community in 2018 with questions about the murals, and about raising money to support revitalizing the murals. In May 2018, Adah Cruzen honoured her late-husband with a gift of 100-thousand dollars to the West Seattle Junction Association to boost the restoration process.
So, what do the murals mean to the people of West Seattle?
( Click here for images and more )