Pullman mural finds new backdrop, backing

An artist’s rendering of a mural, 60 feet wide and 15-18 feet tall, that would grace a wall on the building on Kamiaken Street in Pullman. Willow Falcon and Michael Porter, owners of Noshies and Glassphemy in downtown Pullman, have agreed to let the proposed mural grace their business on SE Paradise Street.

PULLMAN — After controversy and delays marred a similar project with the city of Pullman, an artist, a nonprofit group and a local business have joined forces to create a Black Lives Matter-themed mural on the side of a downtown Pullman building.

The public donated nearly $14,000 in two days to pay for the mural designed by Jiemei Lin, a local artist who works in Washington State University’s College of Education. The proposed artwork will be painted on the side of the building that houses Noshies and Glassphemy on Kamiaken Street. It will cover the wall that faces Paradise Street.

Lin is aiming to finish the mural this summer. An illustration of the planned design is featured on the project’s GoFundMe page and shows the words “Black Lives Matter” and “End Racism Now” on a colorful background with brightly colored flowers and trees.

Lin submitted a similar design to the Pullman Arts Commission last year when it was asked by the City Council to lead efforts to create a mural for the Spring Street retaining wall.

The City Council then voted in favor of restarting the submission process with a plan to get more public feedback and send out a request for qualifications of artists interested in designing the mural.

During last week’s town hall meeting organized by a Pullman subcommittee overseeing the Spring Street mural, all of the locals who spoke stated their support for the words “Black Lives Matter” to be part of the artwork.

Lin, who also supports the Black Lives Matter message, said she was frustrated with this “painful and difficult” process led by the city. Lin said she does not need the city’s permission to make art for the community.

That community, she said, showed it cares about addressing racial injustice and supporting all people of color.

“I think one really important thing I learned from this process is that this is a mural that people really want,” she said.

The mural efforts are managed by the nonprofit Pullman Arts Foundation that Lin formed along with Joe Hedges, June Sanders and Margaret Gollnick last year.

The foundation’s website states “we remained committed to the idea that Pullman needs a public statement affirming the lives of black and brown community members, and a work of art that challenges us to find ways to end racism now.”

Jessica Sweedler DeHart organized the fundraiser and Noshies owner Willow Falcon donated her building’s wall for the mural.

Falcon said she is sympathetic to this cause and that it is “the right thing to do.”

Falcon said she knows that people in the community are passionate about seeing a Black Lives Matter mural. She said the immediate support for Lin’s design expressed this passion as well as the public’s frustration with how long it has taken for a mural to become a reality.

She said it is vital for people to do what they can to support all members of the community, including expressing support for the Black Lives Matter message.

“I think it’s important to say that out loud,” she said.

Falcon said the wall on which the mural will be painted is approximately 60 feet wide and 15-18 feet tall.

The money raised on GoFundMe will be used to rent scaffolding, hire a painter to paint the primer coat on the wall, purchase paint and supplies for the mural, fund an honorarium for the artist and cover the cost of the gifts awarded to donors.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.