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City announces new project with VividMatterCollective to recreate and properly preserve the Capitol Hill Black Lives Matter Street Mural

Photo by Kyle Kotajarvi.

Starting Tuesday morning, September 22, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will be collaborating with the original artists from VividMatterCollective to recreate the Black Lives Matter street mural painted during this summer’s protests on Capitol Hill.

The mural has rapidly deteriorated primarily because of paint applied to an unscored surface covered in slippery aggregate. After discussions between ARTS, SDOT, and the fifteen artists who worked to create the street mural in June, all have agreed to a comprehensive removal, recreation, and reservation plan that kicks off on Tuesday.

The street mural is located on Pine Street between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue and was a central gathering place during the protests that was then preserved by the City by creating a reconfigured street to limit vehicle access to the mural. The recreation efforts will get underway quickly to avoid the inclement weather – rain and pavement that is too cold for paint to properly cure – that would delay this work until sometime in 2021.

“Vivid Matter Collective along with the City of Seattle is proud to announce the collaborative effort in preserving the beautiful Black Lives Matter monument, making it a permanent landmark celebrating progress and change during this unprecedented time in Seattle’s history.”

Artist Kimisha Turner, a member of the VividMatterCollective

The careful effort by all parties to identify a comprehensive plan to recreate a longer-lasting Black Lives Matter mural in its original location is an acknowledgement of the cultural significance of the site in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The deterioration of the artwork further accelerated when members of the public who were not a part of the collective applied sealant without the original artists’ permission. The sealant damaged the artwork, which is now beginning to separate from the roadway in some areas. The City is committed in time, resources, and values to do better.

The original artists have worked with SDOT to develop a plan to remove the current artwork and prepare the site so that the artwork can be recreated in a more durable fashion to survive the harsh roadway conditions.

SDOT will begin temporarily removing the artwork on Tuesday, September 22 and preparing the site for the artists to repaint the mural on Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27. Repainting of the mural is dependent on weather conditions.

Work will commence by tracing and scoring the existing footprint of the mural to properly prepare the surface for the application of paint. SDOT will provide supplies and installation support to the VividMatterCollective. This will include expert guidance from SDOT’s own Dahvee Encisco, who is
himself an experienced muralist. He will be onsite from beginning to end with the artists to advise on how to install a durable on-street mural with the correct primer, number of paint layers, and adding traction material to each coat of paint that can withstand the roadway conditions in this area.

It is important for all to remember that even when utilizing best practices and materials, on-street murals will continue to deteriorate at a rate much faster than other surfaces. Maintaining the integrity of the recreated Black Lives Matter mural will be an ongoing project for all.

“The Capitol Hill Black Lives Matter street mural is a potent symbol of free speech and civil rights. I am deeply sorry that we fell short in our efforts to prevent damage from occurring to the original mural. SDOT is committed to supporting the original artists to restore their work in a more long-lasting fashion.”

Sam Zimbabwe, SDOT Director

SDOT has been working with the original artists to create a preservation plan for some time. In July, SDOT installed posts to prevent people from driving over the mural and added a new 4-way stop sign at 10th Ave E and E Pine St to help eastbound drivers transition onto the block with the mural at a slower speed. Those protective measures will remain in place.