“The blazing Romanticism of this gold, green and purple visionary scene belies any misconception that Monet simply painted what he saw or was a relaxed celebrant of leisure. Even the morally fervent Victorian critic Ruskin might have been moved if he’d seen that medieval church glowing on its hilltop in the mystical sun. He would have seen this as a religious work, and perhaps it is. Monet steps out from behind his easel, to share deep emotions with us. He uses colour expressively, dives imaginatively into this spectacular piece of Normandy coastline where a deep gorge separates us from the church. Does that abyss symbolise a gulf between him and God, or between modern life and a simpler past? This is a sublime revelation of Monet’s inner turbulence.” — The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham
FROM THE SEATTLE TIMES “IT PROBABLY SHOULDN’T come as a surprise that Ella Shepard Bush got lost in the fogs of art history. The same has happened to many other women artists, before and since. But in her day, Miss Bush — as she was always known — was at the heart of Seattle’s budding art scene.”
“A 35-year-old self-taught artist, in 1990 Rayed Mohamed immigrated with his family from Yemen to the United States. While his primary language is Arabic, he speaks some English. However, he best expresses himself through his art.”
Everyday when I wake up, the first thing I see when open the curtains of my balcony door, I see a certain mural. This mural is very hard to miss because it takes up the side of three steel-framed, yellow brick buildings, the primary building being five-and-half stories tall. This piece of art is the primary reason why I am glad to have apartment on the side of the building that is located. I know that one of my neighbors is of the opinion that a child designed this, but judging by that comment, I realize that he doesn’t have much knowledge about the technical aspect of art. Everybody’s a critic.
Because of the mural’s enormous scale, the title of the mural is “The Mural of Unusual Size.” This piece was designed and painted in 2017 by HENSE, an artist from Atlanta, Georgia and was part of a project to revitalize blighted properties in the city. The painting required 170 gallons of paint to complete. While I was glad to learn this information, I wanted to learn a bit more, as I’ve never been pleased with answers on a superficial level. In particular, I wanted to learn a bit more about the building.
I knew that the buildings were currently occupied by an audio-visual consultant and an automotive repair garage, but I didn’t know anything about the building’s past. Someone had told me that it was once an old factory, but they did not elaborate beyond that. And for all I knew, what they told me was incorrect. I tried searching for the desired answers online, but I only got articles about the creation of the mural. I knew that someone had the answers. So decided to contact the artist—maybe someone had told him of the site’s history when he took on that job. I sent him an e-mail through the contact form on his site. A couple of days later, I thought of someone else who might be more helpful: the Washington County Historical Society. So I sent them an e-mail, too.
While I still have not heard back from HENSE, the office admin of the historical society suggested that I should check the Maryland Historical Trust’s website. Turns out that that was an excellent piece of advice. Using Medusa’s, their online database, map tool, I found an application from when the building applied for historical status. I had learned that the building was once the site of D.A. Stickell & Sons Feed Manufacturing. This company was both a flour and feed producer. The building was constructed in 1947 and continued to operate until some point in the 1950s. Through this information, I was able to locate some of the burlap sacks that they used through online antiques dealers:
There is even something more baffling that I have come across. I had found an ad for D.A. Stickell & Sons, but it is filed as being from 1915 in the digital library of WHILBR, Western Maryland’s Historical Library. I had originally not noticed that date, and assumed it was from the time frame that was reported on the aforementioned application. But looking a bit more closely at the artwork and typefaces, I highly doubt that the ad was from the 1940s or 1950s and that the year it is filed under is correct. (Printed ad artwork and typefaces throughout history is another subject that would make for an interesting post, but that is aside my overall point.) While the location has a different building number than what the building currently has and was filed as having in the historical status application, I am sure this is for the same buildings. Either the number in the ad is a typographical error or the buildings had a different (but similar) number at that time. I am certain that this ad is for the same location as the cross street that is mentioned is the same one that is where the mural is located. Perhaps these were entirely different structures that had been demolished at one point. But even if that were the case, why does the information in Medusa allude to the Anchor Milling Company being there at that time? For that matter, 1915 predates the existence of the Anchor Milling Company existing in Hagerstown by four years. Did the Anchor Milling Company buy D.A. Stickell & Sons and the former name was kept?
While I am a bit flustered that my question has yet to fully be answered like I thought it was (and perhaps it never will be), the buildings are a bit less of a mystery. Ironically, this newly acquired information does not paint a clearer picture of the artwork itself, and the mystery is as tangled as the artwork itself.
I invite you to take a look at some of the artwork created by the talented staff of one of our amazing Social Service Partners, Harborview Medical Center. Click here for more inspiration for our upcoming Spring quarter photography and portraiture classes, as well as wood, fiber, jewelry, and much more!
“Structured in Seattle”
I took up film photography last year – it’s been a great way to explore both the city and my creativity.
Rebekah Zaharia, Academic HR Manager, General Internal Medicine
“Portrait of Sheryl Feldman”
Andrea Gahl, RN, Trauma Nurse Coordinator, Department of Surgery
This is a portrait of my friend Sheryl Feldman. She is a writer, filmmaker, climate change activist, and co-founder of Hedgebrook, a women’s writers retreat on Whidbey Island. 32×32, oil on canvas.
“Diamonds are MMs BFF”
Jamie Leeds, Program Operations Specialist Supply Chain Management
“Gladys A. Bentley”
Nikki Harris – Dones, Medical Assistant Sleep Clinic
Gladys A. Bentley (Aug. 12, 1907 – Jan 18, 1960) “was a Gender-bending American Blues Singer, Pianist, and Entertainer during the Harlem Renaissance. She was a pioneer in pushing the envelope of gender, sexuality, class and race. ” She played a major roll early on the Black Queer community. This piece is mixed media of painting with pens, marker and paper.