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Teens add splash of color to Aquatic Center

Teens add detail to the colorful, 800-square-foot mural at the base of the Aquatic Center’s east wall. More than 15 teens participated in the project, funded by a Teen Action Group grant. -
Teens add detail to the colorful, 800-square-foot mural at the base of the Aquatic Center’s east wall. More than 15 teens participated in the project, funded by a Teen Action Group grant.
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Regulars of the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District Teen Center Lounge faced a pleasant quandary this April.

They had a check from a 4H Teen Action Group grant to use on a public art project, and all they needed was a bright idea.

“One of the things that came up very early on was the idea of painting mural somewhere,” Teen Center Coordinator Shannon Buxton said.

The notion of a mural was appealing, both because it could be a bold swath of expression, and also be used to cover up a graffiti-stricken wall, Buxton said.

After much consideration, the teens decided to beautify the base of the east wall of the Park District’s Aquatic Center, which was already beginning to collect graffiti tags.

Artist Todd Lown, himself a regular at the Teen Center in the 1990s, was recruited to mold the vision. In May, teens began sketching designs for the mural on butcher paper and passed them on to Lown, who wove the elements into a water theme.

After clearing the mural layout with park board, Lown went to work outlining the design.

“I just chalked it out on the wall and got the silhouettes in there, and ever since people have just been filling stuff in,” Lown said.

Over the course of two weeks, more than 15 teens, parents and community members at large trickled by the wall on their free time to take a turn brushing in dabs of detail. The end result was an 800-square-foot strip of surreal shapes brought to life in eye-popping color.

At one end the mural begins with a tempest of blue waves, washing around grinning, one-eyed sea monsters and a yellow submarine. At the other end a blue-and-green-haired skateboarder rolls into a forest of bamboo, inhabited by a bat-winged character in a top hat.

Originally, organizers had hoped to finish the project by the end of the school year, but rainy weather slowed the work. Painting on the mural was completed this week and it was sealed to prevent damage from vandalism. The mural’s evolution was recorded on camcorders and the teens plan to produce a time lapse video of the process.

Lown said young children seem especially drawn to the fanciful shapes, and everyone enjoys the color. To Buxton the best part of the mural may be the number of people who can say they had a hand in its creation.

“It’s cool to see the kids point out the parts that they have designed or painted, as they walk by,” she said.

During the summer the Teen Center is open from 2:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Call 780-9622 or email teencenter@biparks.org for more information.

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