North Seattle Herald Outlook

“Artists add ‘spice’ to Aurora with mural”
November 18, 2009
by Jessica Van Gilder, Staff Writer

Artwork by Zach Bohnenkamp, John Osgood & Sensei23 for ProSki Shop. Seattle, WA

Though it was their first artistic collaboration, once the tops of the spray cans were popped off, the visions of Bherd Studios Gallery artist John Osgood and Matamuros mural artists Kevin Sullivan and Zachary Bohnenkamp just clicked.

In under 15 hours, the three artists spray-painted a 20-by-40-foot mural for Seattle Pro Ski Service, 8954 Aurora Ave. N. – an urban mural complete with an abominable snowman, snowy mountains and the Seattle skyline.

“Actually, one of the best working experiences I had with somebody was this job,” said Osgood of the collaboration. “We all have similar interests and style – where the light’s coming from, color, compositions, lines. Everything sort of flowed together.”


After seeing Sullivan and Bohnenkamp’s work at an art show at the Naked City Brewery & Taphouse in Greenwood, Osgood said he knew he wanted to collaborate with the Matamuros artists. Sullivan, who sketched out the mural, said the key to murals that size boils down to can control and making sure proportions come out correctly.

But apart from establishing can-control technique the most fun aspect of mural painting, according to Bohnenkamp, is the freehand work. Though the artists painted with the guidance of Sullivan’s sketch, the mural was not gridded or projected onto the wall. “Everyone added their own spice to the mural,” Sullivan said.

The open nature of mural art keeps the pieces from being static or restricted by definitive guidelines.

“[With our murals] we all communicate as we’re doing it,” Bohnenkamp said, “and we come up with different ideas than we had in the start. Sometimes we don’t have a plan, and sometimes we do…. But it really happens when you’re at the wall and lots of new ideas come in.”


Since murals by nature are on display to the public, Sullivan said he tried to tie the community into the painting. Apart from cityscape with the Space Needle drifting into the mountains, Aurora Grocery at North 90th Street and Aurora was also incorporated into the piece.

While an abominable snowman on a business’ wall might seem unique enough, Sullivan said the wealth of neighborhood interaction and community vibe with the project made this mural distinctive. “They were definitely into it,” Sullivan said. “We got a lot of community feedback and a lot of good feedback.”

As for public art, Bohnenkamp hopes that’s the direction mural art will continue to go. “There are plenty of places up in that neighborhood that could use some public art,” he said. “In general, that’s really the way I see the future of what I’m doing headed. I’m down to help local businesses, and I’d really like to see more people allowing art in public. It’s good to put something up there that everyone can benefit from and enjoy.”


With a successful collaboration, the artists said they look forward to working together for future projects. For Sullivan, “working with two buddies” couldn’t get better.

“We really just started working together, but I like the way [Sullivan] inks and draws stuff,” Osgood added. “I’m like a little kid. The sky’s the limit.”

The trio will have the opportunity to collaborate again in the upcoming weeks to design and paint a 140-foot wall that will be up during the reconstruction of the four businesses burned in the recent fire at North 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue North. Taproot Theatre Company contacted Osgood about the wall, but the details of what the piece will look like haven’t been discussed yet.

Sullivan and Bohnenkamp are showing their work at Bherd Studios Gallery, 8537 Greenwood Ave. N., Suite 1, as part of the “Urban Presence” exhibit through Dec. 23.