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
"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.
SEWARD MURAL SOCIETY DESIGNS
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
"Tribute to Commercial Fishing" (2003) by master artist
Tom Missel emphasizes the importance of Seward's fishing industry to the
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
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
"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:
OTHER OUTDOOR MURALS
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 entry: our 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
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil