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4 new downtown Ferndale murals underway

FERNDALE, Wash. — While the Ferndale Arts Commission (FAC) has had to cancel planned events during 2020 due to health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been able to secure locations for and commission 5 murals in downtown Ferndale, 4 of which are currently underway.

According to Ferndale Arts Commission Chair and Downtown Mural Project Coordinator Rebecca Xczar, each mural is a collaboration between the property owner, artist and FAC. In the past, building owners contributed financially to the commissioned murals. But due to the challenges facing businesses and the community due to COVID restrictions, Xczar said, financial contributions from property owners were not required this year.

Longtime Ferndale resident and mural artist Jennifer Dunn said she has been working for several weeks on a goldfish and lily pad design that extends across 3 walls on the northeast corner of Alder Street and 3rd Avenue. The walls are on property owned by WaFd Bank (formerly known as Washington Federal Savings and Loan). Xczar said Dunn submitted 6 designs for consideration, all of which FAC approved and the manager at the Ferndale WaFd branch chose the design being installed.

Across the street on the outside east wall of FrinGe Brewing location, mural artist Kelly Hoekema of Bellingham is working on a local flora and fauna design entitled “Tennant Lake” according to Xczar. “The design was a collaboration between the owners of FrinGe, the artist, and the FAC, with direction provided by the Masonic Temple board,” Xczar said in an email. Hoekema lived in Ferndale for several years in the past and told Xczar, “I love that I get to be a part of a town that truly enjoys the arts.”

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Ferndale artist Todd Bruce is currently working on 2 murals on the former Dimitri’s Restaurant building between City Hall and the Public Library on Main Street. Bruce is the artist behind the 2-story “Wall Flowers” mural along the east wall of 2038 Main Street, formerly Babe’s Place restaurant, and the mural on the south side of the City Hall Annex building on 2nd Avenue. Xczar said Bruce moved to Ferndale last year and is a tattoo artist at Luck Lady Tattoo on 3rd Street.

Bruce submitted several designs and the tree design was a preferred choice by the mayor and city staff given the building is now city property. In addition to the tree mural on the south wall, another interactive mural incorporating large wings is being created on the east side. FAC wanted another interactive mural to attract picture takers posing in front of it much like the umbrella mural, Xczar said.

The first mural this year was completed in July at 2050 Vista Drive.

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Locations of murals installed during 2020 as part of the Downtown Mural Project

FAC has also commissioned a temporary hydrophobic art project on a yet to be disclosed section of downtown sidewalks along Main Street according to Xczar. Using a water-resistant application, the design will only be visible when wet and is expected to be visible for 2 to 4 months. This project is expected to be installed soon as the rainy season appears to be arriving soon.

The 5 commissioned murals this year represent approximately $16,800 of the FAC’s $20,000 allocation in the City of Ferndale 2020 budget according to Xczar. She said that with the cancelled events, “the FAC put more of the budget to murals this year, supporting artists and providing beauty for the community to enjoy.”

Xczar said FAC has been contacted by other artists who have submitted designs that they hope to be able to work with in the future. 

Xczar said FAC has 2 more projects they are hoping to complete this year, but details were still being worked out.

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