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"The beautiful seaside town of Seward was officially designated 'Mural Capital  
of Alaska' in 2008 at the completion of the town's 12th colorful mural. This
achievement resulted from the enthusiasm and energy of a group of local artists and
art lovers who began volunteering their talents in 1999 to paint the town . . .
The Mural Society paints to bring life to Seward's unique historical characters
and events and to celebrate the beauty and spirit of Alaska."
~ from the Seward Mural Society's website
The concept is unusual -- the Society's murals are a group effort, usually completed during Seward's annual Music and Arts Festival in September. Here's how they do it.

According to The Milepost Alaska Travel Planner, a master artist designs each mural. The design is projected onto sheets of Alumalite and traced with pens. Then each outlined shape is assigned a number corresponding to a paint color. Society members and volunteers fill in the colors.

The mural shown below does not, however, look like your ordinary paint-by-number picture:

"The Iditarod Trail" is one of my favorite Mural Society designs. The master artist is John Van Zyle.

I had read about this process before seeing the murals but I really couldn't tell on most of them that a group of different artists did the work on each one. You can see what I mean in the Iditarod mural above and others I'll show you below.

The Society's murals and the outdoor paintings done independently by other artists chronicle historical events in Seward. They commemorate the mountains, glaciers, and water surrounding the town, the fishing and mining industries, aviation, marine life, wildflowers, the Iditarod Trail, and religious and Native Alaskan themes.

It's not a mural, but this statue is a tribute to early miners who lived here.

It was fun to try to locate as many murals as I could during my bike rides and our drives through town. By now there are about sixteen Society murals adorning various buildings around town, plus about eight additional outdoor murals done independently of this project.

I missed almost half of the murals. That just gives me more to do the next time we visit Seward!

In this entry I'll show you the thirteen I found and photographed. I'll give the master artist's name and/or any history of the painting if I know it.


I'll list in chronological order the eight murals I found that members of the Society collaborated on in groups: 

"Tribute to Mt. Marathon" (originally painted in 2000 and completely redone in 2011 due to deterioration) was designed by Susan Swiderski:

The double mural commemorates Seward's famous 4th of July footrace up and down Mt. Marathon, which looms over the western side of town.

One of the accompanying signs includes a list of each year's winners, at least in recent times. The challenging but very popular trail run has been run since 1915, making it one of the oldest footraces in the U.S.

Here are the two parts of the mural shown separately for a little more detail:



"Wildflower Quilt" (2001) was designed and painted by sixteen different artists to celebrate Alaska's colorful wildflowers:

This is the only one of the Society's murals that I saw where I could discern the artists' more obviously different styles.


"The Iditarod Trail" (2002) commemorates the mushers and dog teams that averted the diphtheria epidemic in Nome by delivering desperately-needed serum to the village over hundreds of miles of frozen terrain in 1925:

The master artist is John Van Zyle.

I divided the mural into left and right halves so you can see more of the details:



"Tribute to Commercial Fishing" (2003) by master artist Tom Missel emphasizes the importance of Seward's fishing industry to the community:

Here's another angle:

This is a detail of the center of the mural:

Seward is noted for the salmon, halibut, cod, and herring caught in Resurrection Bay, not only by commercial fishermen but also by sport fishermen. Both are big industries here.


"Chart of the Entrance to Resurrection Bay" (2004) is a collaboration of twenty artists who came up with this detailed and whimsical version of Rockwell Kent's original 1918 pen-and-ink drawing included in a book he wrote called "Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska."



I really love that one! I get lost in the large original photo I took, trying to read all the text. It's a very cool version of the original drawing. You can probably see it in larger format at the Society's website.

Better yet, go to Seward and see it in person since I can't show a 16-megapixel photo here!


"Tribute to Rockwell Kent" commemorates the author mentioned above, who visited Fox Island and Resurrection Bay in 1918 and published an illustrated journal about the history of the area and his "quiet adventure" there:


"Wildflower Garden" (2006), designed by Gail Nisbrugge, is the second mural to commemorate Alaska's bounty of wildflowers:


There's a very interesting photo on the website that shows several of the artists working on the various panels of this mural during the 2006 Arts Festival:

That's a great "illustration" to show how the Society's group murals are produced.


"Remembering Exit Glacier" (2007) by master artist Dot Bandarson seeks to remember the glacier when it was more at its prime, before all the receding it's done in recent years:



Three of the murals I found were designed and painted by Jennifer Headke, founder of the Seward Mural Society.

All three are based on Native Alaskan mythology. Accompanying signs tell the story of each mural. The first two, created in 1996, involve Raven, a revered mythological creature.

"Raven the Creator" depicts Raven creating the world:

"Raven Releases the Sun, Moon, and Stars:"

"Fog Woman" was painted in 1997 and also includes the symbolic raven:

All three of those murals can be found at the Ranting Raven Bakery & Gift Shop on 4th Ave.


The next mural is just down the street a couple blocks on Railroad Ave., across from the SeaLife Center.

"Sea-Ward Bound" (2011) by Justine Pechuzal and Liza McElroy shows life-sized humpback whales swimming across the wall of a restaurant:

Visitors can often view the tail or fluke of humpback whales on cruises in Resurrection Bay but they aren't likely to see the whole critter out there.


I saved my favorite independently-produced outdoor mural in Seward for last:

"Pony Cove" (2006), by Mike Corona, depicts a typical summer fishing scene in a cove at the mouth of Resurrection Bay. It is painted on the curved corner of a building at busy 4th Ave. and S. Harbor Drive:


Here are closer views the left and right halves of the mural:


That mural segues neatly into my next entry, which will be about our day cruise through Resurrection Bay to points south along the coastline of Kenai Fjords National Park.

You can read more about these and about a dozen other murals in town at the Mural Society website. This link is for the Society's murals, and this one for the independent artists' murals. The website also gives the location of each mural.

Next entryour six-hour catamaran tour of the fjords, including photos of a large calving tidal glacier, emerald green rainforests, snowy mountain peaks against bright blue skies (yes!!), and lots of interesting marine creatures

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the ultra Lab

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2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil