Toppenish, the city of 70 murals
At every turn in Toppenish, a city in the Yakima Valley, you're confronted with the past, in more than 70 murals.
Seattle Times staff photographer
More Northwest Wanderings
35th in an occasional series
TOPPENISH — At every turn in this city in the Yakima Valley, you're confronted with the past in more than 70 murals.
"These pieces have become the fabric of the town," says Ken Carter, a noted artist from nearby Prosser, Benton County, who led the creation of five murals and the restoration of more than 30 others.
Outside the old Toppenish Trading Post, a stampede of spooked cattle barrels down Main Street, about to overrun Carter, who's there to freshen up the scene.
It's the less creative but necessary maintenance, with scraping of old paint, caulking of seams, repairing a scar and "knowing when enough is enough."
"I have to step out of myself and be true to the artist's intent. They had a vision to maintain."
Since 1989, when "Clearing the Land" was painted by 15 artists in one day, this city of 9,000 has added to its collection and its new identity: "The City of Murals."
The works are "historically accurate" and represent "a sense of pride, a sense of place," says Carrie Ann Story, of the Mural Society. The group is considering choices for next year's addition to the visual history.
Half of the murals were painted directly on buildings around the city, and half were painted on boards later attached. The largest mural, of pioneering female pilot and parachutist Maud Bolin, measures 30 by 110 feet.
Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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