Bare outside walls in Hillyard have a bright future. They’re won’t stay bare much longer.
Painter Tom Quinn is completing the second in a series of outdoor murals the Hillyard Business Association has planned for the neighborhood business district.
Quinn painted the debut mural last year. It is a picture of a train yard and portrait of early Great Northern Railway builder James Hill, for whom the community was named.
This year’s mural, on the wall of the Hillyard Post Office at Market and Olympic, features an old steam locomotive pulled up at one of Hillyard’s early depots.
Mural No. 3 gets started within a month on the side of the Hillyard Florist shop. No. 4 is likely to go on the north side of the American Armored Pawn Shop on Market Street.
The third mural will portray a scene of early Hillyard activity, perhaps even a scene of workers relaxing after hours, said Larry Thomas, chair of the committee.
His committee hasn’t chosen a scene yet for the fourth mural.
The end product is a necklace of bright outdoor art that will snaz up the neighborhood and underline the upbeat mood of the business area.
Quinn is getting about $1,100 for the mural, the same amount he received last year. He’s worked dozens of hours on it, starting in October, then resuming in April after a winter pause.
Money for the mural series comes from community donations and money raised by the business group.
The post office project’s two major donors are a postal employee group and the Spokane Railway Credit Union.
Spokane artist Rob Johnson is lined up to paint the next Hillyard mural. No one has been chosen yet for the one after that, Thomas said.
Quinn, meanwhile, is getting the hang of this mural-painting thing. He’s the same guy who created the oversized marmot mural in downtown Spokane, plus he helped other artists with two or three wall projects in the area.
“I’d like to do maybe one a year,” Quinn said. “It’s nice working outside. The only problem is having to haul my ladders and scaffolding around with me in my truck.”
If his income were big enough, he’d hire an assistant. The assistant would help with some of the roughing out and applying broad swaths of paint on the wall.
Quinn would then get to focus on the details that make the work more convincing, more enjoyable or maybe just more likely to cause passers-by to stare.
In this work, Quinn ran into a quick case of art criticism after painting in a large dog running alongside the train in the depot.
A few residents, plus some postal workers, voiced concern, telling Quinn the animal was too large in proportion to the train.
Quinn said he knew what he was doing, but he decided to cover up the dog anyway.
“Maybe it had too many associations for postal workers,” he laughed.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo