Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Belltown Murals - 1

It's time for us to look at Belltown's murals. I know, it's not easy. By my count, we have only three murals in the entire neighborhood. (Graffiti walls don't count.) Two are woefully bad and one is superb. Let's start with one of the woefully bad ones, shall we?

This work lets the world know that there was once such a thing as the Belltown Inside-Out Festival. It was a strange little celebration that involved certain people giving tours of their funky apartments, among other things. I really wanted to participate for something like six years, but my place was not presentable. By the time I repainted it and got it looking very cool, the festival had died. It seems that during my six years of pining, Belltown had gone from a neighborhood of old, strange, eclectic buildings with customizable units to a place that was building soul-less new places nearly every week. A lot of incoming new building tenants didn't know an interesting apartment from a hole in the ground and volunteered their new soul-less digs as prime examples of Belltown living. That made everybody want a nap, so Belltown Inside-Out died circa 1996. Let's take a look at this awful, awful mural.

It's located at 3rd & Battery (right across the street from yesterday's Dead Project!) on the side of the lovely U.S. Bank building. As you can see, it's not very well executed, but I'll take a stab at what Belltown has to offer according to the mural. OK, first off, you can shoot hoops somewhere and wear a Sonics jersey (sigh...I miss the Sonics). You used to be able to do that in Regrade Park just one block down at 3rd & Bell, but they've taken away the backboard. Well, you used to be able to do a lot of things there, like smoke crack, pick fights with strangers and sleep on the grass. Now it's a dog park. I think that was a wonderful idea even though I don't have a dog. Anyhow, if you're watching convicted felons playing basketball, you might as well marvel at the stunning concrete sculpture at Regrade Park. That's what the round, gray thing is in the foreground. That still stands. In back of that is the Austin A. Bell Building, which has since been turned into condos. Back when the mural was painted it was little more than a derelict facade that was occasionally set on fire by some careless squatter. Nevertheless, it was something of a symbol of Belltown: formerly grand, but presently decrepit, unsightly and quite dangerous. As the Austin A. Bell Building went, so went Belltown. Behind Austin A. Bell is supposed to be the Darth Vader Building, but it's so poorly rendered that it could be anything. Beyond that are a few anonymous buildings that probably never existed and then there's the Space Needle, which is definitely NOT in Belltown and then there are two trees, then another tree. And besides those things, there's nothing else to see or do here. End of mural.

Yeah, it's terrible, but it's 33% of Belltown's murals! God, I think we could all sleep better if they painted over this one. I mean, nobody remembers Belltown Inside-Out, and even those who do (except for me) don't remember it fondly. So let's forget about it. This ain't the cave at Lescaux. Why do we need this?

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