Origins of the Drugstore Mural “For Love of an Island”

A little while ago we posted a photo of the Drugstore Mural asking if anyone had information on it’s origins. Many thanks to Lori Stokes for following up with the answer…

For the Love of an Island - Peggy Sue McRae Photo

For Love of an Island – Peggy Sue McRae Photo

The Story of the Mural on the Side Wall of the Drug Store
by Lori Stokes

As a member of the Friday Harbor Arts Commission, I’ve been working on preparing a catalog of all the public art in town, both that owned by the town itself and that privately-owned but in the public way.

One of these pieces of art is a mural (or more correctly I should say, a portion of a mural) on the side wall of Friday Harbor Drug, where the old part of the building joins the newer part, to the left of the front entrance. You’ll see it walking down Spring Street towards the water. Some of the mural was covered over when the buildings were joined.

Blue Camas (detail) - Peggy Sue McRae Photo

Blue Camas (detail) – Peggy Sue McRae Photo

In trying to track down who painted this and when, I spoke with a large number of individuals – the current owners of the store, previous owners of the store and their family members, people who used to work at the store, and others to whom I was referred by individuals who said, “I don’t remember the specifics, but I’m sure that xxx will remember.”

After a photo and a story about my search for information appeared on Facebook and in the San Juan Update, I received two phone calls from people who said, “I know who painted that!” But interestingly, each identified a different person! Gary Boothman told me that it was an old friend of his, Tom Brudenell, who was a painter and muralist living on Shaw at the time. Since Gary didn’t know if Tom was still alive, or where he might be living now, I Googled his name and discovered that he is indeed alive, and is living in Canada. An interesting article about him had recently been published, so I emailed the publisher and asked if he knew how I could reach Tom. He did, and shortly thereafter Tom and I spoke on the phone. Tom was amazed that part of the mural is still intact on the wall; he commented that usually when construction of this nature takes place, the entire mural is painted over.

Clam Digger (Detail) - Peggy Sue McRae Photo

Clam Digger (Detail) – Peggy Sue McRae Photo

So here is what Tom told me. In 1972, he was living on Shaw, and spending part of his time going to rural communities throughout the state, helping to create what he calls “people’s murals.” He was asked to facilitate the creation of one of these in Friday Harbor, as part of the town’s celebration of the centennial of the peaceful resolution of our renowned Pig War. So he gathered together some interested residents of a variety of ages and artistic talents, and as a group, they designed and painted the mural. Tom described his role as a “catalyst of creativity,” simply facilitating the planning and execution of the mural rather than painting it himself. His main job, he said, was to serve as the technical advisor, since none of the town residents involved had much experience in painting murals and therefore needed guidance about how to prepare the wall, what kind of paint to use, etc.

Boat (Detail) - Peggy Sue McRae

Boat (Detail) – Peggy Sue McRae Photo

The chair of the Town’s Centennial Committee, Joyce Wampler, named the mural “For Love of an Island.” The mural depicts the past on one side and the present on the other, with the branches of a large Madrona dividing the two. The Discovery, the first English ship to arrive here, appears in the center, and the mural contains numerous images of island wildlife, boats, and people.

An article from the Friday Harbor Journal in June of 1972 identifies the painters as follows: Bill Cox, boats; Ines Robertson, flora and clam diggers; Cass Nielsen and Scott Lowe, birds; and Kay Eichert and Joyce Wampler, animals. Jack Benedict, Ed and Hedda King, and Carl Stoddard provided information about the Salish people, whose images were painted by Bill Cox.

Posted on July 29, 2016 at 5:30 am by

Categories: Around Here
6 comments:

6 comments...

  1. Wonderfully interesting article! Thank you so much, Lori,for giving us new comers (24 years) a look into the past.

    Comment by Sheila Harley on July 29, 2016 at 7:59 am
  2. what a wonderful story. Thanks for tracking all the information down. WIll take a new look at it today when I go downtown.

    Comment by lynn glenn on July 29, 2016 at 8:54 am
  3. Thanks, Lori, for all the ways you give back to our community. A nice bit of slouthing, and a most interesting story!

    Comment by David Bayley on July 29, 2016 at 9:38 am
  4. Lori…truly fascinating! I appreciate your researching and sharing a bit of the past. Because of you, I’m looking at all the buildings and for “hidden sculptures”, and seeing my island with different eyes. So, what other treasures are you going to reveal for us? Thanks, Lori!

    Comment by Gay Graham on July 29, 2016 at 10:24 am
  5. It’s a great story to hear all the people that were involved. it’s also fun to see all the detail. I wonder if anyone has a picture of the whole mural before the addition was added. I’m glad they didn’t cover over this part! Thanks!

    Comment by Ann White on July 30, 2016 at 7:14 pm
  6. I remember when Mom helped with this. We also did mural on alley way by movie theater.

    Comment by Nancy Wampler on August 14, 2016 at 10:38 am

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