TWO HOURS INTO THE mural I turned to Jon Van Zyle and said, “So what do you think? Is it going well? “Yeah, I guess so. Hell, what do I know, I’m just here.” Jon isn’t exactly the dictatorial type. Jon Van Zyle, as any Alaskan can tell you, is the artist of record for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Every year he produces a painting that is reprinted as that year’s poster, all of them evocative of the cold and the dark and the eleven hundred grinding miles of trail from Anchorage to Nome. Today it’s August, it’s Seward, the sun is up and will be for the foreseeable future, and Jon, depending on which story you believe, has been either dragooned into or has himself volunteered this year to do the master design for Seward’s Mural in a Day.
This event was masterminded by local artist Jennifer Headtke, who was visiting her sister in Lompoc, California, one year and saw the murals on the walls of the public buildings there. Local artists had pioneered the mural-in-a-day to foster community spirit and keep the kids off the streets.
“Why can’t we do that in Seward?” she said, and repeated herself enough times when she came home that she found other interested artists and a few generous sponsors and, well, now Seward is starting their sixth.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.