Muralist finds new career after suffering layoff

PORT ANGELES — First he painted the sunshine, and then the torrential waterfall.

And, Jim Lidback admits, he avoided the harder parts — the lush ferns and evergreens — for a while.

But now, the 8-by-6-foot tableau of Sol Duc Falls is finished, and graces a sun-yellow wall at the Mount Pleasant IGS Market, 3010 East U.S. Highway 101 — and Lidback is ready to take on other waters.

A retired Coast Guardsman, Lidback got a job at Hartnagel Building Supply in Port Angeles — but was laid off in January.

So, having just a couple of drawing classes at Peninsula College under his belt, he decided to go back into something he’d always loved to do: painting murals.

Lidback had already unleashed his brushes and color on IGS back in 2005, when he painted a map of the Olympic Peninsula on the wall overlooking the cash registers.

Store owners Kathy and Glen Johnson have made good use of it since, as travelers come in looking for directions and attractions.

In mid-February, Lidback stopped in again to ask the Johnsons if they might like to change a blank wall on IGS’ west side into a photograph-like mural of one of the most popular spots in Olympic National Park.

They said yes, go ahead, and, “I learned as I went,” Lidback said.

It took him 50 hours to complete the mural in Golden acrylics; the Sol Duc scene turned out to be more complicated than he expected.

In the months since Lidback got his business license and had his eldest daughter Lisa Lidback design his website, www.LidbackMurals.com, the artist has heard from others interested in livening up their walls.

Steve Burke, executive director of Port Angeles’ William Shore Memorial Pool, asked if he’d look at the exterior of the pool building at 225 E. Fifth St.

“I drew up some sketches,” Lidback said, “and the pool’s board [of commissioners] loved it.”

He’s now working on detachable images on wood: 10 figures of children and adults, walking toward the entrance to the pool, plus three “portholes,” with children swimming through.

While the Sol Duc Falls mural cost about $2,500, Lidback isn’t charging for the creation of his swimming-pool pictorials.

Burke is paying only for his paint and supplies — a few hundred dollars’ worth — and giving him an annual family pass worth $450.

“It’s a great deal for us,” Burke said.

Lidback “is a fantastic talent,” who will be helping people find the pool’s front door, he said.

“The entrance isn’t real noticeable. It’s hard to tell where you go in,” Burke said.

And the look of the building “needs a little help” in the aesthetic department.

Lidback’s artwork will help both ways, Burke believes. The painted people will point the way to the door,and make the old building look more appealing.

Lidback expects to have the portholes and people done in May.

Meanwhile, he said, “I’m seeing blank walls all over town.”

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@
peninsuladailynews.com.

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