Seattle – The City of Seattle is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month and unveiling new public art installations, including a bold new mural from artists Marisol Ortega, Tavo Garavato, and Víctor Meléndez.
The mural, located in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood at 4th and Yesler, is part of MEXAM NW Festival’s public art initiative to provide a platform for Hispanic and Latino artists and celebrate Seattle’s multicultural identity.
“Art is a cornerstone of our efforts to revitalize downtown Seattle, adding vibrancy, color, and stories that reflect our One Seattle values to our streetscapes and public spaces,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “We know that art is a powerful way to express emotions and encourage human connection, which is why we are harnessing the energy and talent of our local creatives to help us write a new chapter for our city’s center. I’m thrilled that we could partner with these gifted artists to beautify this part of our city and uplift the stories of our city’s Hispanic and Latino communities.”
“This mural is a collaborative work amongst myself, Víctor Meléndez (México, Seattle), Tavo Garavato (Colombia), and Marisol Ortega (Tacoma). It showcases elements from each artist’s culture as well as icons from the Pacific Northwest,” said Víctor Meléndez, a West Seattle artist who recently worked on a stamp set for the U.S. Postal Service. “The work is a representation of people from different backgrounds and traditions coming together to create something beautiful and inspiring for others.”
“We are immensely proud of the MEXART initiative by MEXAM NW Festival, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by transforming Seattle’s gray spaces into vibrant canvases that reflect the creativity of Latin culture,” said Head Consul of Mexico in Seattle Héctor Iván Godoy Priske. “With the City of Seattle, we unite in breathing life and color into our city, showcasing the enduring connection between Mexico and art. This mural speaks to the soul of our community, inviting all to celebrate this vibrant addition to Seattle’s artistic landscape.”
In Seattle, Hispanic people make up the third largest racial/ethnic group according to census data, with a population of about 63,000. From 2000 to 2022, the number of Hispanic residents in Seattle grew 173%, making it the fastest growing minority group represented in Seattle according to Visit Seattle.
The art activation is part of Mayor Harrell’s One Seattle Graffiti Plan, which aims to address the surge in graffiti and tagging that the city has experienced over the last several years. Since 2019, incidents of graffiti reported by the public have grown over 50%, including nearly 20,000 reports of graffiti and tagging in 2022. So far in 2023, there have been over 17,000 reports of graffiti.
One of the six pillars of this plan is the Many Hands Art Initiative, which engages with local artists, businesses, volunteers, and others to activate public spaces with art and prevent harmful graffiti and tagging. The Office of Arts & Culture recently announced a $877,000 investment to the Hope Corps to support nearly 60 murals which will begin design and installation later this year and into 2024.
This investment includes the Downtown Seattle Mural Project, a component of Mayor Harrell’s Downtown Activation Plan (DAP), which will fund the creation of 40 murals spanning from SODO to Belltown in partnership with neighborhood organizations. More murals are also planned for Seattle’s parks beyond downtown through the Seattle Parks and Recreation Mural Project, funding 18 artists who will create murals at parks throughout the city.
Additional efforts in this initiative include launching a graffiti abatement program in partnership with Uplift Northwest to remove graffiti in downtown Seattle with an emphasis on the Chinatown-International District.
Other public art activations uplifting Hispanic and Latino heritage include the SEA Giant Skulls, a month-long art installation in downtown parks to celebrate Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. The skulls will be moved to Town Hall for the Seattle Catrinas Festival. Learn more about the exhibit here.