Spaceworks Tacoma paints the town "Spring"

By Kristin Kendle on April 4, 2014

Spaceworks is always out and about, prettying up Tacoma, filling empty storefronts, adding more artwork to spaces that need some love. Specifically, Artscapes, a nifty slice of the Spaceworks pie, has added 84 large-scale works of art to downtown T-town, from installation pieces to murals. And the awesome just keeps on going.

Spaceworks is kicking up its heels again with more downtown murals, this time at South 11th and Market streets. Yes, yes! More murals, precioussss.

This round brings two commissioned works headed up by artists Chelsea O'Sullivan and Diana Leigh Surma, who will both work to give new life to a long-vacant brick building perched at this intersection. The building has been going steady with graffiti for just a little too long now and murals often help ward off vandalism, along with turning a former eyesore into an eyescore. It's like bedazzling. For buildings.

O'Sullivan's mural will span across 10 of the large panels along South 11th Street. The mural will be titled "Turn on Spring." As you might guess, the mural will seek to infuse the Northwest gray with some color - one of O'Sullivan's specialties, as most of her work tends to pop with vivid color.

"This time of year it rains so much and all the color that comes into the city is just budding," says O'Sullivan. "Something that stands out and is bright is something that is needed, at least for myself. I usually work in vivid color, but when you're sick of the rain you need whimsy, interaction, and things that are uplifting."

In fact, as she worked on the mural, rain played more of a role than inspiration. Given that much of the process is taking place during the rainy spring, O'Sullivan has had to contend with working in the few rare-yet-awesome sunbreaks we get. She's worked with a team to help ensure she could get things done during the dry moments, including working with fellow local artist Gabriel Brown to get the base color down on the only dry day within three weeks.

"Then I assembled an army of friends (Melissa Houston, Erin Lewis, Kaitlyn Fernandez, Shannon Fernandez, Kevin Ketchum, Laurie O'Sullivan) to do my dirty work," she explains. "I took the time to outline where the pipes were, where the flowers were, the characters, and then they used rollers and paint brushes and laid down solid colors for those. As that paint dried I followed everyone with aerosol and started developing shading and definition. TECHNICOLOR BOOM!"

All through the process, O'Sullivan and her minions have battled rain. The incline of the street and winds gusting through downtown have also proven pleasant additions to the process. During sunny moments, she hits the streets to paint. The mural is evolving as she goes-she wants an impact and is still working to make sure the mural has that impact.

Meanwhile, Surma is heading up a second mural on the Market Street titled "Show Your Stripes," which will be a design of intricate geometric shapes designed to capture the revitalization of downtown as well as where the city came from.

More information about these murals and other Spaceworks projects, click here.