Finding Lotus Flowers in Tacoma

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Mural behind the Tacoma Buddhist Temple

Not too long ago I found a post from a shirttail relative on my Facebook page. My father’s cousin’s son (I think that means he’s my second cousin) posts a variety of things from science tidbits to grammar funnies and photography. One day he posted a mural in progress that caught my imagination.

I shared it on Facebook and many others liked it, too. Watching it grow in the pictures my cousin posted, I began to wonder exactly where I might find this wonder created with a lift and spray paint. I work downtown and could tell from the address that it was somewhere next to the apartments where I teach. The day I saw it completed, I decided to leave a little early to have a look.

The first time I had no luck. I knew I was on the right street but saw nothing like the giant octopus with the lady and lotuses. All I found were a few old brick churches with no paint in sight. Googling it again that night to check the address, I confirmed what I already knew: I was in the right area. While searching for it electronically, I did, however, discover an entire murals project I hadn’t known existed. I’ve written before about my love for Tacoma in spite of her blemishes, but I think I love more the people out there improving her with their buckets of sprayed on color.

The Tacoma Murals Project is working to improve the city by putting up murals with the help of artists working together with communities. They finished 15 from 2010 to 2012 according to their website. The mural I was searching for by Chelsea O’Sullivan on 17th and Court D was one of 6 new murals according to the News Tribune. I had a delightful time looking at the website with the pictures of places transformed by art as I tried to figure out where the lady with the lotus blossoms was hiding.

Driving back the next morning, I discovered O’Sullivan’s work was down an alley on the backside of one of the churches I had seen on the first day. The church is actually the Tacoma Buddhist Temple — it’s plain front side sits at the address of 1717 Fawcett Avenue listed on the Facebook page.  I took pictures in that alley and stood soaking in the sight I had only ever seen on a screen before. A self-guided tour of these project murals might be in my near future because finding that art hiding nearby felt like discovering gold in the neighborhood where I work. Blessings on those who bring these joys into the world and thank goodness for shirttail relatives who keep up with these things.

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Cherry Blossoms flowing over and around the side of a building.

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A Pacific Octopus

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Lady with lotuses.

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Full picture minus the octopus blocked by a jeep.