The Garland business district is quickly becoming the mural capital of Spokane.
Nearly two dozen street murals decorate outdoor walls in the walkable business district on Garland Avenue from Howard to Madison streets.
The murals started appearing as long as eight years ago as a way to discourage indiscriminate graffiti.
Spray-paint artist Daniel Lopez, who lives in the Garland district and has become an artist celebrity in his own right, is one of the main contributors. He has done some of the works on a volunteer basis. In other cases, he was hired by business owners. Other noted artists including Todd and Cain Benson have been involved, too.
The murals are giving Garland a hip vibe.
“It is super cool,” said stylist Rachel Minor, who serves coffee during morning hours at Mug Shots espresso and works on beauty treatments during afternoons. Garland, she said, “is more raw.”
To see the greatest concentration of murals, you need to go into the alley just south of Garland between Post and Monroe streets where more than a dozen separate works can be found.
Julie Shepard-Hall, president of the Garland Business District organization, said the murals are part of a new “art alley” that has taken hold there.
“We have some great talent in Garland,” she said.
The mural alley has some stunning images that are worth going out of the way to see.
Lopez painted a likeness of Vincent Van Gogh at the alley’s opening on Monroe Street.
Farther up the alley is a likeness of Marilyn Monroe followed by a mural of famed Spanish artist Salvador Dali.
A few steps away is a huge owl flying straight at you.
In one nook on the Spokane Art School building is a work done by teacher and students. Another mural is just an eye looking at you with a Spokane scene reflecting off the pupil.
Batman, robots and space creatures round out the representations.
In another alley mural, Lopez painted two hands with index fingers nearly touching in an ode to Michelangelo’s famed ceiling mural in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Lopez is also proud of his evening dock scene behind the Drinkery and a woman looking out of her living room window at Garland Auto. A swan adjoins that mural at the neighboring shop, The Engraver.
Dave Jones, owner of the Brown Derby and Ferguson’s Café, commissioned Lopez to do a mural that looks down on a vintage drive-in theater with Mount Spokane in the background.
The mural provides an artistic decoration around a movie screen for evening outdoor showings at the Brown Derby during warm weather.
“We had to have something to decorate the space,” Jones said.
“The patio (for movies) is a huge thing,” he said.
The Brown Derby is one of the oldest taverns in Washington state from the post-Prohibition era, dating to 1933, Jones said.
Inside the Brown Derby, Jones and crew cleaned a vintage mural of the tavern fun many years ago. The tavern itself has been fully renovated using blue-stained pine wood as a decorative feature.
The Clock House has its own mural featuring a wise old owl. It attract a lot of young people who take selfies using the mural as a backdrop, said shopkeeper Phout Tanphantourath.
The Sew E-Z Too shop at Howard and Garland is on its second version of its popular murals, which give off their own street graffiti feeling.
All of the murals are part of the ongoing artistic energy in the Garland area. New colorful park benches and seats are found along the sidewalks.
The neighborhood has something like 14 Pokemon sites.
“It’s really a family neighborhood,” Shepard-Hall said. “It is comfortable, and it is safe.”
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