Seaside resident Mark Kenny’s artwork has been chosen as the winning design to be placed on the large wall at the former Hazen Hardware building in Clatskanie.
The design will make up one of the new murals being placed in the city.
Kenny submitted his design after a call for submissions was released on April 1 of this year. He said he heard about the mural competition through a friend who lives in Clatskanie.
Kenny's mural design is called “Homeward Bound” and features Chinook salmon swimming up a river to spawn.
“It reflects the ecology, the environment, just the area in general, what it’s known for,” Kenny said.
Kenny grew up in Bedford, Massachusetts, and said when he moved to the West Coast, he was struck by the vibrancy of colors he saw.
“When I came out here, I couldn’t believe how vibrant the colors were," he said. "It was so green, I couldn’t get over it. It really inspired me, everything; the beach, the marine life, the wildlife.”
“Homeward Bound” represents the community, and the way the fish always go back to where they were spawned, according to Kenny.
“They have a purpose and that purpose is to continue on and reproduce," he said. "Having your roots is kind of important. A lot of people leave and never realize how good they have it and a lot of people end up going back.”
While Clatskanie is known for being a logging town, Kenny said fishing is also important to the area, and the fish swimming upstream would be a good depiction of life in this town.
“It’s their journey, but it’s life too,Kenny said. "Life is a journey, never seen a fish give up, have you? They’re fighters. Kind of like the people in the northwest,” Kenny said.
Kenny started honing his skills as an artist beginning at the age of five.
“I was pretty much self-taught,” he said. “Used to go to the library and get the books I could and copy all the drawings.”
He became a professional artist at the age of 17, when he did his first show. He continued to paint through the years. A few years ago, he was commissioned to do a sculpture in Warrenton as a memorial for soldiers. The entire sculpture is about 14 feet tall and is next to the post office in Warrenton, Kenny said.
Kenny’s style involves using bright colors, elements that will be reflected in the former hardware store’s mural.
The Hazen Hardware wall will be the first to be painted in the project, with the Radio Shack building, just done the street and, a few blocks away, the Clatskanie skate park to follow shortly after.
The Clatskanie mural project is the vision of Jeremy Furnish, who is the Clatskanie Bloom Gallery president and founder of the Clatskanie Artists Network. The overall vision of the project, according to Furnish, is to establish several murals throughout Clatskanie. He said he created the project in order to visually improve the community, as well as to encourage engagement, education and involvement from the community.
The competition was open to all students, emerging and professional artists ranging from Columbia, Clatsop, Cowlitz, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.
Approximately 14 community volunteers, including a group of Clatskanie High School art class students will conduct the mural painting beginning later this month with completion set for September.
Kenny will be at the site of the new mural project most days, he said, supervising the completion of his vision at the Hazen building.
The Chief will check in from time to time to show you photos of the mural project and followup when it is completed.