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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Art

Maple Street mural celebrates 25th anniversary of Waste-to-Energy Plant

Artist Todd Benson walks Monday, July 25, 2016, along his work site where he has painted murals on Maple Street in Spokane. Benson is painting the mural at the northeast end of the Maple Street Bridge to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Spokane’s Waste to Energy Facility. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Artist Todd Benson walks Monday, July 25, 2016, along his work site where he has painted murals on Maple Street in Spokane. Benson is painting the mural at the northeast end of the Maple Street Bridge to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Spokane’s Waste to Energy Facility. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

People motoring up and down the Maple-Ash corridor on the north side of the Spokane River may have noticed the eyes already.

They seem to be looking at you.

Several pairs of them make up a new mural painted on the concrete retaining walls at the north end of the Maple Street Bridge over the past two weeks.

Todd Benson, with the help of his brother, Cain Benson, was just finishing the work earlier this week.

The creation was commissioned by the city of Spokane to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Spokane Waste-to-Energy Plant.

Like most art, the meaning is to be discovered by the viewer.

Benson explains that in his mind the eyes represent the people of Spokane and the environment they all share. He said he wanted to put a human face on a cold space.

It is about how humans take care of their environment, he said.

“It’s not just a mural. It is about space,” he said.

He painted the eyes the way he did because he wanted them to connect quickly with viewers rolling by at 30 or 40 mph.

The 575-foot-long artwork replaces a former “People’s Gallery” mural that was 23 years old and starting to peel and chip away.

Because of traffic, the Bensons and crew worked at night with one lane closed.

The people’s faces are similar to the Bensons’ mural at the main entry of Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena and on the retaining walls at Second Avenue and Maple Street.

The work was commissioned through the help of the Spokane Arts organization.

Funding is coming from a budget for celebrating the Waste-to-Energy Plant’s 25th anniversary and is intended as a gift back to the community. The solid waste disposal fund provided the $10,000 cost for the mural, said Marlene Feist, utilities director of strategic development.

“It’s not supposed to be a literal interpretation of waste to energy,” Feist said.

The city’s logo and another logo commemorating the anniversary of the plant were painted on the walls beneath the Broadway Avenue overpass.

“I am very excited about this,” said Karen Mobley of Spokane Arts.

“It will look really cool when you are driving by,” she said.

By burning garbage, the Waste-to-Energy Plant is capable of producing 25 megawatts of electricity, enough power to light 13,000 homes.

The Bensons have previously done work at Kendall Yards, the laborers union hall and an alley in the Garland District.

Work on the mural was expected to be finished this week, Benson said.

The job initially involved volunteer work to prep and prime the walls, Mobley said.

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