Two panels from "Mother and Baby Whale in the Kelp Forest"
Project: A Slice of Life: Essential Ketchikan
Installed: Tatsuda's IGA
Location: Ketchikan, Alaska
Materials: Modular Murals composed of 52 aluminum panels
Size: est. 120’ x 5' x 2"
This colorful installation is made up of 52 shaped and painted aluminum panels, overlapping and offset from the walls.
Tatsuda's, Ketchikan's beloved local grocery store, celebrated its 100th anniversary in April 2016. As part of a major remodel, third generation owner Katherine Tatsuda and her dad, Bill, commissioned me to create artwork for the store. We worked together to come up with the themes of beloved Ketchikan things.
After playing with different designs in more traditionally rectangular formats, I settled on asymmetrical compositions of different sized and shaped panels that I call modular murals. To my eye, this created an unexpected and playful contrast with the many straight lines of the store—the aisles and lines of merchandise.
Art in a grocery store?
I went in the store after a month of being out of town, and it even surprised me! I hope you can visit Tatsuda's some day. It's a pretty friendly place to shop.
I carved small linocut blocks as studies for each the panels, to keep a strong graphic or carved look that provided contrast with the thousands of small items in the store.
In the spirit of mural painting, I was able to hire painters to work in my studio during this project: Andi Smith, Cameo McRoberts, Falene Reeve, Laura Kinnunen, and Kathleen Light each worked from a few hours to a few weeks. The lovely Katherine Tatsuda made a studio visit and wielded a brush to make her mark on "Rain" below!
This is a partial view of the fishing wall which is made up of eight panels.
Shrimp is part of the "Fish Run," (three of seven panels shown below). The metal panels are utilized in the fish bodies—individual scales are ground to shine through the paint.
Kelp Greenling from the "Under the Sea" wall.
Octopus panel is in the center of "Mother and Baby Whale in the Kelp Forest."
Sadly, after 104 years in business, Ketchikan's beloved hometown grocery store was destroyed in a landslide in February 2020.
Most importantly, no one was physically hurt in the slide, which happened at night when the store was closed. And amazingly, the crew pulled all but one of the modular mural pieces out of the destroyed building. Not a week goes by that I don't hear someone sadly muse outloud, "I miss Tatsuda's".
"Jimmy's Fruit, Vegetable, and Fern Forest" is one of the largest murals in the store, composed of 10 panels. It is inspired by the little black bear that got into Tatsuda's in 2011 and took a romp in the old produce bins.
Two panels from "Rain!"
Rain was one of Katherine's first requests.
Yes, in Ketchikan, our rain is definitely worth celebrating!