Gonzaga University art students put some shine on the Northeast Community Center last week with the painting of a huge mural on one of the walls at the entrance to the center.
“I feel it’s a way to give back to the community,” said Tammy Berthiaume, a GU junior from Lakewood, Washington. “It takes a community to help each other.”
The students worked with Spokane muralist Daniel Lopez to create the piece that depicts a small child in loving hands with lilacs surrounding the central image.
The overall message in the art is one of caring, Lopez said. The hands could be viewed as those of God.
“It changes everything when you walk in,” he said.
The design was created by the students in a collaborative effort that went from three drawings to a merged full-colored concept that now adorns the wall on the north side of the entry corridor. It took less than a month to go from the start of design to a completed work.
As the mural was being finished last Tuesday, one of the numerous center patrons walked by and marveled at the work. “It’s really interesting,” she said.
One man said, “That’s really nice.”
Another woman snapped a photo.
The center at 4001 N. Cook St. is run by the nonprofit Northeast Community Center Association to provide social services and medical support through multiple agencies serving eight neighborhoods, including the Hillyard Senior Center.
Dave Richardson, executive director at the center, said the new mural helps the center look less institutional.
“It is very powerful. It is going to mean something to everyone,” he said.
Gonzaga senior Brian Ward of Tacoma said, “I didn’t expect to have this kind of impact.”
The students on the project are from GU’s painting and drawing classes 1 and 2. Nearly a dozen students participated in the mural project, Richardson said.
Laura Truitt, assistant professor for the classes, said Lopez contacted the university art department to get the project going.
“Daniel is an amazing talent,” she said.
His work can be seen around the city – in the Garland business area, including a mural alley a half-block to the south, as well as the Boulevard Mercantile at Monroe Street and Northwest Boulevard and the Altamont Street underpass of Interstate 90.
His technique employs spray paint for its distinctive look.
Lopez has donated a number of his works in an ongoing effort to give Spokane a friendly and attractive vibe. He said he wants the Northeast Community Center project to be about the students’ contributions.
“You get a lot out of accomplishing and finishing something,” he said.
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