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Friday, December 8, 2023
Dec. 8, 2023

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Community invited to help create mural in Washougal

Artwork will adorn bathroom building at Hamllik Park


The East County Citizens Alliance, an east Clark County nonprofit organization, endeavors to improve its communities by facilitating projects that bring people together to accomplish common goals.

As far as Annie Soutter is concerned, there’s no better way to do that than creating art.

“Studies have shown that public works of art are incredible for communities,” Soutter — an artist, musician and member of the nonprofit’s steering committee — wrote on the organization’s website. “They increase pride of place, beautify spaces, encourage conversations, inspire wonder and creativity, elevate voices, foster inclusiveness, enhance well-being, and boost the economy, to name a few. And when the community works together to create that public art, the benefits are amplified.”

Her fellow alliance volunteers agree. The organization has requested $2,000 from the city of Washougal’s art commission to install a community-created mural on the bathroom building at Hamllik Park.

“It is an art project, but it’s really also a community-building project,” East County Citizens Alliance member Kathy Huntington said during a Washougal City Council workshop session Oct. 23. “We see that as an essential part of this — we’re inviting the community in on both ends, and hopefully, there will be some ownership and pride and excitement about it, and a feeling that that community is valued.”

The alliance will hold a public brainstorming event to help imagine possible mural designs from 3 to 5 p.m. today at Hamllik Park, 4285 Addy St., Washougal. Pizza and drinks will be served.

“(We’ve already asked), ‘What are some of your ideas about beauty and joy and gathering together as a community? What are some of the things that bring positivity to the area?’ We’re trying to seed it with a really positive, uplifting kind of thing,” Huntington said.

The alliance hopes to involve “a broad cross-section of the community in painting the mural, with final touch-up by experienced artists,” including Washougal resident Travis London, according to a project description submitted to the city.

The alliance will focus its recruitment on “students through the schools, seniors through the senior center and Meals on Wheels, the local neighborhood through flyers and posters, and the Spanish-speaking community through the school district liaison. It is our intention that this project be accessible, inclusive and approachable to all members of the Washougal community,” the project description states.

Soutter, the project’s co-manager along with London, wrote that the alliance hopes “this mural will be the first of many.”

London, a Vancouver Public Schools art teacher, has been painting public murals in Washougal since 2007. His work can be seen at the Chinese Cafe; the Big Foot Inn; the Washougal Times; the Port of Camas-Washougal’s industrial park; Pendleton Woolen Mills; buildings on the corner of 20th and Main streets, and Northeast Third and Northeast Sixth streets; and a garage on 20th Street.

City councilmember Molly Coston said the Washougal Art and Culture Alliance has agreed to provide some funding for the project, which is estimated to cost $3,723.

“We love the fact that we are building partnerships with other organizations — the art commission, the ECCA group — that go out and engage the community to get their feedback and input,” said Coston, the president of the Washougal Art and Culture Alliance. “I think that in the long run, (projects like this mural will) start to reduce some of the vandalism and some of the other things that we have down there at Hamllik Park and the whole Addy Street neighborhood if we can get the buy-in from folks that live in that community. I’m fully supportive. I think it’s a wonderful (project).”

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