Artist partners with 9-year-old to paint mural downtown on Park(ing) Day
A tent, some canvas and an assortment of brightly colored paints isn’t a site people typically see in a downtown metered parking space.
“This is an animated mural,” artist Sarah Davies explained to a curious passerby.
Davies is the artist behind last winter’s 100Stone display at Point Woronzof. Friday, she turned the parking spot at 7th Avenue and G Street into her art studio for the day.
Her inspiration — Wednesday night’s North Star Community Council meeting. The community gathered to talk about the rise of violent crime in Anchorage’s parks, when her neighbor, 9-year-old Amalie Loki, stood in the center of the audience and told Mayor Ethan Berkowitz why she feels scared.
“I think sometimes at night I get scared because I think there could be somebody who’s going to break into my house, because there’s so many crimes across the street from my house,” she told Berkowitz. “I feel like someone might come into my house.”
The quiet room of adults then filled with expressions of agreement, “So do I,” “I’m with her,” and “You are not alone.”
Davies is using Loki’s words to recreate the moment that she says touched her heart.
“What I’m trying to do is take a very serious expression of her truth, in very serious community conditions, bring some light and color to it, and bring it out on a very public day,” the artist said.
The occasion was Park(ing) Day, a yearly national event that Anchorage takes part in. All over downtown Friday, tents and miniature green spaces popped up in parking spaces. It’s a chance for citizens to think about how their community’s space is used, and for artists and activists to raise awareness about the needs and issues in their community.
For Davies and Loki, the message is simple.
“I hope they stop what’s been going on at the park, and I hope they catch whoever’s been doing it, and well, I hope it becomes a better place and there’s less break-ins and deaths and stuff,” said Loki.
The 9-year-old says she wants people to feel happy when they look at the finished mural. Davies wants people to feel how she felt at the meeting two nights earlier, when Loki spoke up.
“I think a lot of us were thinking that and it took Amalie to say it,” Davies said. “We all wanted to say more mature things than that, more sophisticated things than that — how do we become part of the solution — instead of something smaller and pure. The essence of what we were feeling.”
“I was very scared when I did that,” Loki remembered, as she the painted butterflies in her stomach on the canvas. “I did not think anything like this would come out of that.”
For Davies, the colorful mural is also a statement of something more.
“We can’t vacate our pretty, beautiful, safe spaces. We can’t vacate them because we feel like they’re occupied by people who might hurt us,” she said. “We have to stay.”
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