As restaurants and shops board up their windows and doors due to temporary, and possibly permanent, closures during the COVID-19 outbreak, artists take to the walls in an attempt to brighten up the unusually quiet Ballard neighborhood. Murals from various artists can be seen on nearly every street in the heart of Ballard with new ones popping up weekly. Most of the artists include their Instagram handle, or some other way to find them and their work, but one artist signed with a simple, “Andi.”
Andi Imes is a 12-year-old who was excited to have the chance to share some of her art with people in Ballard. Andi was given this opportunity through fellow artist Hal Peterson, who said, “We were just briefly talking about art three days ago and she showed me this one [painting] she had done on a piece of cardboard and I said, ‘I’ve got a space that I don’t have anything on right now, come down and do it.’ That’s the whole spirit of art in general as far as I’m concerned, so it was the perfect opportunity.”
Andi has been seriously drawing since she was 10 and is learning how to do digital art. Her father, Anderson Imes, was sitting on a bench nearby watching as she confidently placed the first strokes of bright blue paint onto the empty plywood. Andi had sketched out a larger copy of the painting she had showed Peterson days prior onto the plywood and was just beginning to apply the paint – an image of a person in a long, flowing, gown made up of various shades of blues and purples began coming to life on the wall.
Peterson was contributing some of his own art in the space next to Andi and spoke fondly of the impact the murals are having on the city. He referred to the murals as a “beautification project,” and praised all of the artists who have been working on them. As excited as he was about all of the art that is being created, he acknowledged that the downside to shops reopening is that the murals will have to be taken down.
In an attempt to preserve the art that is being created during this time, Peterson said, “I’m currently working with the Ballard Association, Pioneer Square, Downtown, to try to get an outdoor show of all of this stuff… Also there’s a significant investment for all of these businesses in the plywood themselves. With the likelihood of shutting down in the fall again, it would be nice to have all the plywood catalogued and ready to re-deploy if it happens again… The other idea was that there could be an auction, which would both benefit the artist, many of whom have completely lost their living, and also the small businesses. So, hopefully that will happen. Some form of it will happen.”
Andi and Peterson’s murals can be seen on Northwest Market Street after Ballard Avenue. Peterson is currently working on getting the proper permits to make his ideas of preservation a reality.
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