Painters turn Seattle streets into a pandemic-inspired art walk

Apr 16, 2020, 3:55 PM | Updated: 3:55 pm

There are many restaurants and businesses that have had to close their doors during the stay-at-home order, putting up boards to cover the windows for the extended closures. Artists started “tagging” these boards with paint right away, according to muralist and yoga teacher Morgan Zion.

“Some of the artists were like, ‘Oh my God, this is a blank canvas,'” Zion said. “As artists, you’re compelled when you see a wall to want to fill it.”

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Zion said businesses wanted artists to fill these spaces with art, and even commissioned the work in some cases. She was approached by several of her yoga clients who own businesses in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Her most high-profile work is on Sam’s Tavern, at 11th Avenue and East Pike Street. It’s a massive mural, standing about 9 feet tall and 20 feet wide, covered in coronavirus-themed cartoons.

“All my characters at Sam’s are burgers and fries, but they’re all at home,” she said. “So, they’re doing what everybody is doing at home now. The fries are taking a ketchup shower, the beer is getting a beer belly, and the burger is learning how to sew.”

Zion has at least six murals in the neighborhood, and she’s not the only one. Almost every business is adorned with some kind of brightly colored artwork.

The door to Oddfellows Cafe + Bar is painted with the words “Love letters here” and an arrow pointing to their mail slot.

On Pike Street, someone wrote “You are essential” and “I can’t wait to see you again” on a wall. Just down the block, there’s a neon portrait of a man with a blonde mullet, holding a tiger. The timeliness on that one may be more subtle, but it’s there.

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Zion said she hopes when people see all the artwork as they pass by, they feel a sense of optimism and resilience: That businesses may be closed for now, and the streets may be quiet, but they are filled with hope for a brighter future.

Find more of Zion’s artwork on her Instagram here.

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Painters turn Seattle streets into a pandemic-inspired art walk