Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mural Transforms Ugly Wall into A Piece of Art

Above: Taking advantage of the great weather, Joslyn Rose Trivett worked all day today on a mural project she initiated earlier this year. The mural is located between the two roundabouts on Olympic Way near downtown Olympia. 

By Janine Unsoeld

Earlier this year, westside neighborhood resident Joslyn Rose Trivett had an idea to beautify a dirty, mildewy retaining wall on Olympic Way, and now, her idea is becoming a reality.  

This week, Trivett is hard at work creating a mural on a 178 foot retaining wall seen by motorists, walkers, and bikers between the roundabouts near the Fourth Avenue bridge.  An area of about 700 square feet, the mural design is a muted green line of trees and plants up to six feet tall.

“I come from a crafty family so art isn’t super intimidating,” said Trivett today, as she sketched the large scale designs on the wall with colored children's chalk.

Above: Joslyn Rose Trivett sketches images on the wall this morning. She says that as she has worked on the project, she's heard frequent verbal endorsements from motorists and passersby. "It's a great feeling of support," says Trivett.

Trivett first obtained approval from the Southwest Neighborhood Association (SWONA) and the City of Olympia to solicit design contributions, choose colors, and arrange images. With the help of volunteers, she obtained supplies, cleaned, primed, and painted the wall a basic off-yellow background color.  Now she’s in the process of painting the actual images.

Today, she and helpers Mo Lally, a SWONA resident, and Trivett’s husband, Rip Heminway, filled in Trivett's sketches with such paint colors as Fun Yellow, Tansy, Parakeet, Carnelian, and Soulmate. Trivett expects to complete the project by next weekend.

As for who actually owns the wall, Trivett says she’s not exactly clear on the particulars. “I had to get permission from the city and SWONA to paint there. I asked for and received the verbal endorsement from the two adjacent homeowners. I know the city maintains the wall, painting over graffiti when it comes.” The wall will also be given a clear top coat of anti-graffiti paint. 

SWONA received a grant from the city of Olympia and about $600 of that grant is going to the mural project. Some supplies and services have been donated by area businesses – Sherwin-Williams gave the project a contractor’s discount on paint and has provided consultation.

Above: Rip Heminway helps paint the mural.

“My interest in painting the wall came from working on the adjacent Rainier Bench garden for the past three years. One time, when I was working there with Bethany Weidner, (former president of the SWONA), she said that her original vision for the spot had included a mural leading to the garden. That thought percolated in me for some time, especially as I would walk or otherwise pass that wall on Olympic Way. It seemed to be a sad, dirty wall, and out of character with the rest of the Gateway project (Seven Oars Park, the roundabouts and landscaping, the new bridge and mosaics)," says Trivett.  

"Either by chance or by influence, a design occurred to me that would match the themes of the Gateway project: images of nature transitioning to images of urban, structured environments, and using organic forms and earthy colors. This mural begins,uphill, with flowers and grasses and old growth forest and ends, downhill, with formal plantings of a neighborhood or suburb.”

“I would love to continue the project to the larger, downhill portion of the wall, creating a Phase II mural. That site would require way more preparation and maintenance. It has a huge weed problem, encroachment from both above and below. I hope that there will be energy to tackle that based on the success of Phase I. The images for Phase II would continue from Phase I, with the trees and plants integrating into more and more urban scapes.”

For more information about the project, contact Joslyn Rose Trivett at

Above: Southwest neighborhood resident Mo Lally helps paint the mural on Olympic Way.