PORT ANGELES — A fanciful vision of the Elwha River from the mountains to the sea is taking shape in a downtown “tunnel,” with only a fringe of fir trees peeking out of the entrance to alert First Street pedestrians to its existence.
Jamie Lynn, a snowboarder and internationally known artist based in Seattle, has been creating the mural on the side of the building at 123 W. First St. over the past week.
The mural, 9 feet high and more than 40 feet long, is located inside a pedestrian tunnel that leads from a parking lot on West Front Street to stores on West First Street.
It is barely visible to the casual observer on the street.
The painting was arranged by Scott Sullivan, a snowboarder and internationally published photographer who plans to open a pizza restaurant, Strait Slice, in May at 121½ First St.
His shop will be inside the building on which the mural is being painted.
Sullivan said he contacted building owner Lisa DelGuzzi to get permission to add the mural, and the idea was met with enthusiasm.
Permits are not necessary for murals in Port Angeles as long as they do not include business logos, according to Sue Roberds, city planning manager.
Lynn, 42, agreed to do the mural free of charge, as long as Sullivan covered the cost of materials.
Like others who pass through the tunnel regularly, Sullivan has watched the mural take shape.
“You go away and come back, and it changes. He moves the waves,” Sullivan said.
He said completion of the mural has been delayed because of humid conditions that prevent the paint from drying properly.
Lynn departed Thursday to attend an art show in Montana but will return to finish the mural as his schedule allows, Sullivan said.
Sullivan said he felt the tunnel, which often funnels visitors from the MV Coho ferry at the Black Ball Ferry Line on Railroad Avenue into the downtown area, was dark and unwelcoming.
The passageway needed some art, he said.
And with a record-low snowpack in Western U.S. mountains providing poor snowboarding conditions, the two men were left with time on their hands this winter.
Sullivan is a snowboard and surfing photographer whose photographs have been featured in magazines such as National Geographic, Rolling Stone and Transworld Snowboarding.
After 20 years working in the snowboarding industry, Sullivan knew Lynn well and was familiar with murals Lynn had created, including on trips to Japan and Europe, Sullivan said.
Better known for his snowboarding, Lynn is Sequim-based snowboard and surfboard manufacturer LibTech’s No. 1 rider.
In recent years, he has also become known as a designer of snowboard art and murals depicting outdoor scenes.
“There will be people who come just to see this,” Sullivan said.
Imagery chosen by Lynn includes rolling waves with bubbling sea foam and golden sea spray blowing off the breakers as they march into Freshwater Bay beaches and bluffs, with the Elwha River flowing down from the Olympic Mountains.
The waves represent a once-popular surfing spot west of the Elwha River mouth.
The area has changed since two dams were removed during the Elwha River restoration project, Lynn said.
He said it isn’t what it once was before sediment once trapped behind the dams rebuilt the beaches at the river’s mouth and altered the currents and wave action offshore.
“It was kind of a great stroke of fortune,” he said of his chance to come to Port Angeles and create the mural.
Lynn’s style is distinctive, with big, rounded shapes and vivid colors, and a sweeping quality from one side of the wall to the other.
The perspective for the mural comes from his favorite spot near the river mouth, he said, from a stump located on the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe’s reservation.
An orca and a thunderbird in the style of traditional Northwestern tribal art are included to represent the tribes and history of the area, he said.
Lynn said he was concerned that he get them right.
“This is the first time I have tried Native American-style art. I want to pay my respect to the Native Americans,” he said.
Most of the mural was created using aerosol paint cans with specialty nozzles for control.
Lynn has handpainted outlines and details.
Renee Smith, an employee at Alley Cat Boutique, the store that shares a wall with the mural, said she is pleased with the mural and is enjoying the cheer it brings.
“It reminds me of the ‘purple mountains majesty,’” Smith said, referring to the Katharine Lee Bates lyrics in “America the Beautiful.”
Lynn said he has a plan for another part of the wall of the building, a “postcard-style” glyph spelling out the city’s name, but was uncertain when or if he would get the opportunity to do it.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.