Thanks to Urban ArtWorks’ staff and amazing youth artists, Real Change’s offices are sporting a very fresh coat of paint. Two, actually, if we’re going to be technical about it, as artists completed murals in both the Post Alley room and the downstairs offices.
The first mural, located in the Post Alley room, depicts Real Change vendors hard at work. Holding copies of the paper, as well as a sign reading “Dignified housing for all,” three vendors in their yellow vests occupy the foreground, set against a beautiful silhouette of the Seattle skyline. The sky, rendered in blue, yellow, orange and red layers, boasts a few scattered clouds with a skyplane banner reading “Real Change” above it.
This work was completed by eighth graders from The Evergreen School in Shoreline, Washington. Work began on March 30 and was funded by a grant designed to fight hate related to ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Their teacher, Kristen Gianaris, and Urban ArtWorks teaching artists Dovey Martinez and Sara Vasquez supervised the work.
The second piece is actually a triptych. It was completed under the supervision of Urban ArtWorks artists Bry and Carlos Martinez, with the assistance of youth artists Nova, Riley, Nikki, Ella, Angelina and Jennifer. They worked over the course of March and April before assembling the three panels high up on a wall overlooking the Real Change Advocacy Department.
Katie Comboy, Real Change’s volunteer manager, joked that she’s already forgotten it’s there, as it’s out of view during day to day operations. However, if you look up, you can’t help but notice it. The boldly colored triptych depicts a tightly packed bouquet of skyscrapers — the Smith Tower among them — bursting from a banner that reads “Est. 1994,” Real Change’s inaugural year. This central image is flanked by mountains, just like the city it represents, as well as rainbow-bedecked clouds. It all rests atop a pink sea with not one but two orcas emerging from it, and large stylized red, green and yellow text reading “Real Change.”
The text, according to Urban ArtWorks, was inspired by a student who brought their talent for graffiti to the program with them.
“I wanted to lean into the strength of the apprentices,” an email from the organization read, “so we went with a graffiti style font for the ‘Real Change’ at the bottom.”
Of course, given that it’s in the Advocacy offices, the triptych also includes a rendition of Housey, the House Our Neighbors! campaign mascot, on his skateboard. One note, however: As Real Change’s resident skateboarder, I have been dying to clarify what trick Housey is doing. I have decided, based on the artist’s rendition and a truly embarrassing level of skate-nerdery, that Housey is goofy-footed and is doing a frontside air. If any of you social housing supporters are also skaters and were wondering, there you go!
Before you go! Real Change exists to provide opportunity and a voice to people experiencing homelessness and poverty while taking action for economic, racial and social justice.
Our vendors sell our weekly newspaper all over Seattle and the surrounding area, and they rely on the support of our readers to make an income.
Enjoyed the article? Venmo a vendor $2, the cost of a paper, to support their work!
Tobias Coughlin-Bogue is the associate editor at Real Change.
Read more of the May 17-23, 2023 issue.