Community Post

Fate of Pratt mural up in the air due to tagging, graffiti

Back in the 90’s Derryl Durden hired two Garfield students to paint a mural on his building at 23rd & Union. Although their first graffiti-themed creation didn’t pass muster, he worked with them to create a work of art that paid tribute to three African American leaders: Madame CJ Walker, Malcom X, and Edwin Pratt.

The mural sat mostly unmolested for years. Durden says that even when taggers would hit the building, they’d leave the mural alone “as if they respected the artist that did it.” But it seems like a new generation of taggers have hit the streets in recent years, and they have no qualms about covering over another work of art.

When it does get hit, city rules require Durden to paint over it within 72 hours or face big fines. And the last time it happened he had to cover up a big chunk of the Pratt part of the mural.

Now the question is what to do next. Too many more coverups and there won’t be much more mural left. And nearby business owners have discussed painting over the whole thing.

So we’ll put out a call to all of the artists and art groups in the neighborhood. If anyone is interested in volunteering on a project to restore the mural, leave your comment below and we’ll put you in touch with Derryl. 

It’s also come to our attention that some readers and nearby property owners aren’t familiar with the history of Edwin Pratt. He was a civil rights leader in Seattle and Executive Director of the Urban League and fought for years to end housing discrimination in the city. But just a month after his 39th birthday, he was shot dead by an unknown assailant in front of his Shoreline home. His murderer was never caught.

Pratt Park at 20th & Yesler is named in his honor.

0 thoughts on “Fate of Pratt mural up in the air due to tagging, graffiti

  1. This is a real shame. I had no idea. IF the talent exists, perhaps a community group wants to do a similar mural of a similar or identical theme there (taking a picture of what it was before, and trying to duplicate, rarely works well)?

  2. Still shaking my head…
    (not at Ian, at the taggers).
    This is a real shame…

  3. Could the mural be covered with a transparent coating of some kind so that any future graffiti could just be washed off without harm to the painting itself? Or covered with plexiglas for the same purpose?

  4. It is a shame that less than a third of the mural is left. I like the idea of something new that reflects the message of the old mural, with some kind of protection against taggers. What does everyone think of the graffiti art on the north end of the wall?

  5. I like the historical parallel of Ian trying to work with grafetti artists on this project, but last time it didn’t work…

    I’m for any art that is thematically consistent with the original work and uplifting to the community.

    Paint protecting film is a great idea (if it works).

    Ultimately, whatever it is, if the taggers lacked the basic respect to leave the mural alone, there is nothing that can be put up that won’t be hit in the future…I like in the story where it was pointed out that this modern taggers have no problem covering other works of art.

    (still shaking my head)

    I suppose the basic business question for Ian is – Will a solid color coat of paint be easier to maintain when inevitably it is vandalized than a mural?

    And the only way the answer is in favor of the mural is if (1) the film coat idea works; and/or (2) somebody (organization) takes it upon themselves to maintain the mural (in whatever form it takes).

  6. I wonder if artists could create a mural that honors the same leaders, but in a graffiti style. Then any tagging on it wouldn’t be quite as obvious, and would be easier to incorporate, so artists could maintain it rather than the owner having to paint those ugly white areas. I’d rather see tags than huge blank spaces. If the owner declares tags part of the artwork, he should be able to avoid fines. There are quite a few public graffiti walls in the Seattle area where the owner gives permission for anyone to paint.

  7. It’s been a long time since I painted sets for musicals in high schoool. But if someone does the design, I can “paint by numbers”.

    I think that a protective coating might be the way to go. Polyurethane? Other cities with murals must also have the tagger problem.

  8. I suggest contacting Youth 180 organization and see if they can help w/restoring the mural. They have recently painted murals in South Seattle and this seems like something they might be interested in working on. It is a great organization that works with At Risk youth.

  9. I remember seeing on the news a company that restored the mural underneath the bridge by Greenlake park that the city accidentally painted over. They recently went out there and removed graffiti as well. I don’t know the name of the company which is no help but…hopefully someone recalls it.

  10. Hi Scott, I’d like to get in touch with Derryl, would you please let me know how I should contact him?

  11. I’ve forwarded your email address to Derryl for him to follow up with you directly

  12. Hello,
    I am a fine artist that has recently been pursuing murals and graffiti. If there is still interest in this project on your behalf I would like to discuss the possibilities. Thank you.