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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Three artists selected for Hooptown USA court murals

June 11, 2020 Updated Thu., June 11, 2020 at 4:36 p.m.

By Audrey Overstreet For The Spokesman-Review

Leave it to Spokane to get creative with basketball. After a nationwide search, Hooptown USA has selected three artists to install massive murals on three outdoor basketball courts as part of a regional court revitalization project.

“The intent of the murals is to fuse two powerful creative expressions, basketball and art, while improving existing basketball courts and transforming them into landmarks and new sources of pride in the neighborhoods where they exist,” said Matt Santangelo, Spokane Hoopfest Association executive director Matt Santangelo.

All of the resurfacing work, painting, supplies and labor are being donated by Hooptown USA and MultiCare Health System, with additional support from Spokane Arts. The idea is to establish a mosaic of art and basketball throughout the region to inspire and encourage inclusivity, ultimately building healthier communities.

“These murals will inspire inclusivity simply by being something fun and different that people (including non-ballers) will want to come and see,” said Mika Maloney, Spokane Arts program manager. “This is artwork you’re supposed to run and jump and play on. I think any time we are able to get up close and interact with art, that opens some doors to it being more inclusive and inspiring.”

The colorful transformations start this month when local artist Tiffany Patterson applies her paintbrush to the popular basketball court in Peaceful Valley. The first mural she created was more than a decade ago in the same park. Back then, it was of a tall river lady painted between the pillars of the Maple Street Bridge.

Patterson’s current winning design is a fantasy scape of rocket-fired basketballs and fairy islands, rainbows and steppingstone clouds. The court has all the lines and elements of basketball but also beckons to younger kids who aren’t interested in playing by just one set of rules.

“I remembered playing Hot Lava Monster on the playground, picking safe zones and making up new games,” Patterson said. “I designed this with curvy lines and visual texture of repeated shapes specifically to give kids permission to initiate play.”

Next month, former Coeur d’Alene resident and international muralist Joshua Martel will begin transforming a court in Chief Garry Park with a bold rendering of mammoth basketball shoes hanging from a wire. The iconic image harkens to childhood and neighborhood, while also playing homage to the unifying power of basketball in Spokane.

“I felt pulled to this project not because I love basketball, but because I’m from around here, and I know how big of a deal this event is to everyone locally,” Martel said. “Having so many kids I grew up with that partook in this every season, I’m thrilled to finally have my place in the event.”

Tacoma native Nick Goettling will install his mural in Thornton Murphy Park in Lincoln Heights next year. Goettling typically bases his designs on local histories of the communities that have called a place home. His court will feature a lively rendition of the rushing waters of Spokane River falls.

“In (my design), inclusivity means celebrating a central feature of Spokane’s landscape that all people from all backgrounds have honored throughout the centuries,” Goettling said.

Patterson, Martel and Goettling were among 38 artists from across the country who submitted applications for these projects in response to an open call for artists administered by Spokane Arts in March and April. A panel of representatives from Hooptown USA, Spokane Parks, MultiCare and Arts Commissioners selected eight top designs as finalists.

The top eight designs were shared in a community survey designed to gather input from the three neighborhoods where these courts are located, as well as from court users. The selection panel considered survey input along with the finalist artists’ full applications, experience and past work in making their selections.

For Peaceful Valley representative Carol Bryan, the mostly blue-and-green mural slated for her park’s basketball court reflects the not-so-peaceful section of the river that flows through the neighborhood.

“The river down here is very active. I love how (Patterson’s) design captures that movement in a playful way,” Bryan said.

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