30 new graffiti murals to brighten up downtown Everett

Spawk, of Phoenix, brushes some accent lines along the top of his two-story samurai mural Friday in downtown Everett. Spawk and fellow artist Faust work on the piece together in a parking lot along Rucker Ave. (Ryan Berry/The Herald)

EVERETT — Two graffiti artists spray painted the menacing face of a samurai Friday morning on the top corner of a wall on Rucker Avenue and Wall Street. In the opposite corner, two others have started working on a dragon.

In just a few days, the team of artists will transform the plain gray wall into a 90-by-20-foot masterpiece: the warrior swinging a sword at the dragon with the artists’ signatures, called tags, in between.

The work is one of 30 going up to Everett as part of a four-day event, “Going All City NW”. About 150 graffiti artists from the United States and Mexico are painting murals through Sunday. They’ll brighten up bland buildings, forgotten alleyways and grimy carports. Walk around downtown this weekend and you’ll likely hear the distinctive shake of a spray paint can.

Faust, an artist from Arizona, grabs a new can of spray paint as he works on a mural with other artists Friday in downtown Everett.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Faust, an artist from Arizona, grabs a new can of spray paint as he works on a mural with other artists Friday in downtown Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The rally is the “largest such event in Washington state history,” said event coordinator Brianna Mattes. Her husband, Hyperis the main organizer of the event and the creator of the Everett graffiti murals.

Hyper’s Graffaholeks Crew, known as GAK, is organizing the event in conjunction with the Downtown Everett Association, the City of Everett and the Schack Art Center.

On Friday, artists Faust and Spawk opened up about how they prefer to improvise their art. In graffiti culture, many use their artist name to remain anonymous.

“We don’t really come up with ideas or we sit around or talk and come up with sketches,” Spawk said. “We talk to each other when we get to the wall.”

On Friday, two artists are working on a massive dinosaur mural covering the entire north side of Brews Almighty in downtown Everett.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

On Friday, two artists are working on a massive dinosaur mural covering the entire north side of Brews Almighty in downtown Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The two are responsible for the samurai portion of the Rucker Mural. They started at 7:30 after flying the day before. By 10 a.m. they had lost their jackets as the temperatures warmed. The balmy August day was nothing for Arizonans used to painting in triple-digit heat.

Both 38 years old, Faust and Spawk have been graffiti artists for more than 25 years. They’re with a GAK team in Arizona. Crew chapters hold “Paint Jams” like Everett’s around the country.

“We use these events to hang out with each other and do what we love,” Spawk said.

Last year the two helped Hyper paint the “Rise Everett” fresco which depicts a phoenix rising over the Screen Printing Northwest building at Colby Avenue and 26th Street.

“He has killer walls,” Faust said of Everett. “It’s a cool place.”

Faust slightly adds tone to the beginning of a piece he and other artists are creating for

Faust slightly adds tone to the debut of a piece he and other artists are creating for Friday’s “Going All City NW” in downtown Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Meanwhile, graffiti artists Tacoma Hurae and Savvy, 28 and 25, were eagerly waiting to contribute to the Japanese-inspired Rucker mural.

“These guys are OG,” Savvy said of the two veteran artists on their team.

Best Friends explained how most artists got their start: illegal graffiti. Hurae said he was arrested several times.

It wasn’t until they built up a portfolio that they got sanctioned public art commissions, the two artists said. Both have day jobs, but this graffiti is more than a side hustle.

“It’s kind of addictive,” Hurae said.

On Friday, Spawk is working on a new downtown from the top of a shaky scissor lift along Rucker Ave.  in Everett.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

On Friday, Spawk is working on a new downtown from the top of a shaky scissor lift along Rucker Ave. in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mattes said one of the main goals of the event was to reduce the stigma around street art.

“It’s not just a dirty tag on a wall; it can be a beautiful mural,” she said. Having a mural on a wall lessens the chances of it being tagged in the future, she added.

“Cities see a drop in crime and litter and an increase in community morale and business when they can turn their cities into artsy neighborhoods,” she said.

Ellensburg native Jason Clifton works on a mural in a downtown alley near Vintage Cafe Friday, Everett.  Clifton said he always wanted to be a comic book artist growing up and now takes one of his favorite 90s comics – The Maxx – and transposes some of his images onto a wall between a doorway garage door and a pad-mounted transformer.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Ellensburg native Jason Clifton works on a mural in a downtown alley near Vintage Cafe Friday, Everett. Clifton said he always wanted to be a comic book artist growing up and now takes one of his favorite 90s comics – The Maxx – and transposes some of his images onto a wall between a doorway garage door and a pad-mounted transformer. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

About a dozen blocks north, Los Angeles graffiti artist Hans has embellished an alley behind a Broadway gas station. He painted a Dragon Ball Z-themed mural, with splashes of turquoise and pink.

“We do something for children to have fun,” he says.

The performer’s favorite part of events like this is when passers-by stop to watch. Everyone has seen graffiti, he says, but few know the creators.

“I love the community response,” he said.

Everett artist Shisha, above, and Kaeroe of Tyler, Texas, work together on a full mural Friday in downtown Everett.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Everett artist Shisha, above, and Kaeroe of Tyler, Texas, work together on a full mural Friday in downtown Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

See the artists in action

Live painting continues on Saturday and Sunday. To see an interactive map of painting locations, visit map.proxi.co/r/MuralsOfEverett.

Forty children will participate in Youth Paint Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 2702 Rucker Ave., across from the Everett Public Library. The activity is sold out, but the public is encouraged to watch.

A “burner battle” painting contest will be held from 3-7 p.m. Saturday at the Apex Art Cultural Center, formerly Club Broadway, at 1611 Everett Ave. An after-party is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at the same location.

More than half a dozen artists gathered to put their mark on an alleyway wall Friday in downtown Everett.  Many passers-by took a moment to swing down the alley and ask questions about

More than half a dozen artists gathered to put their mark on an alleyway wall Friday in downtown Everett. Many passers-by took a moment to swing down the alley and ask about “Going All City NW.” (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Jacqueline Allison: 425 339-3434; [email protected]; Twitter: @jacq_allison.

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David H. Henry