In the summer of 2020 The Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) approached me to paint a panel for Maynard Alley’s storefront located in Seattle’s International District. This would be part of a series of recommendations to improve Maynard Alley. Murals were considered one of the most popular from their studies. Artists involved with this project were Seattle classics Zoulie Deng, Tom Dang of @internationalmodeltoys, Taylor Yingshi @yingshiart, and I. We were all selected for our ties and history to the community.
On a more personal level, Maynard Alley is also where the famous Liam’s Pet Store used to be! When I was little I would go in and view the fish and reptiles in awe and wonder. It was a special adventure and one I’d always make sure I had time for. I grew up in Seattle and specifically remember going to the Chinatown Parade as part of Seafair. My 3 favorite drill teams were Sweet Mahogany, The Chinese Drill Team and the Filipino Youth Activities; their costumes and drummers were the best. We’d eat at Tai Tung to celebrate our all family accomplishments; birthdays, graduations, promotions. And I still swear on everything I love that Kau Kau and the small faced fish in the front tank had the best BBQ pork. Later when I was a teenager I’d have bubble tea at Ambrosia, shop The Seattle Kung Fu Club up the street and used King Street Bus Station as my jump off to explore the rest of the city. So you may see, being asked to participate in this project meant the world to me. The experience had me revisiting some of my most fondest memories.
A B O U T :
In recent good news the CID’s very own Maynard Alley was one of six “third places” featured in @PreserveWA last month. A Third Place is a place outside of your work and home where you can go to find community and connect with others. What are other third places you can think of in the Chinatown International District? Read more about Preserve Wa HERE and why Maynard Alley is a unique anchor. This was highlighting the improvements SCIDpda has been doing to the space.
Below is the before picture of the space the panels would be installed and the panel itself.
Unfortunately I wan’t able to get a photo of the 4 before they were installed so here are the panels installed behind glass. They came out amazing, you will have to visit in person! I’m a huge fan of all 3 of these artists. These will be on display temporarily here with the hopes they are permanently installed somewhere else in the CID. Below is the after.
D E S I G N :
I presented 2 designs based on my interpretation of the theme Red Thread. We were encouraged to consider the folktale and related proverb of the Red Thread:
“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.”– Chinese Proverb
The first design titled “Redline” is represented by 2 dragon bodies flying through the canvas. I wanted to have the forms free to add an element of abstract movement to not be so literal. The second design “Spotlight” and I utilize a growing fish-scale pattern glowing from the ground up. The shapes are indicative of a spotlight. Through a voting and vetting process the community selected the Redline concept.
P R O G R E S S :
Here are some fun pics of the painting progress. Seattle is beautiful in the summertime and I thought it a perfect opportunity to paint outside. This panel took 2 days of painting. The first day was for filling in large areas of color. Generally this is the time where I do placement and scaling to size. Day 2 consisted of adding smaller details, patterns, and my favorite part, white highlights!
I also wanted to share my experience in learning new things for this project. Nothing sets me off more than feeling helpless or not being able to because of limitations outside of my control. To transport the panels I had to mount it on the top of my car… An easy job if you’re of normal size and strength. I of course am not. I had to enlist the help of friends to teach me to use ratchets, find a route easiest from CID to Burien and back, and to load it as the panel was a little heavy. I had to have patience with myself and acknowledge that asking for help is not a character flaw and that limitations aren’t weaknesses. We all need the love and support of the people around us. It’s okay to ask for help! Below is how I initially loaded the panel (wrong way) and then after consultations from local superheroes Shizano and Ed Bronson, the right way!
Here’s also more info on the development of Maynard Alley as its new title RED THREAD ALLEY. It’s important we continue to love and support our brother, sisters, and relations in the AAPI community. With the influx of xenophobia because of COVID closures we have to remain diligent. You may support by visiting the CID, eating at the local restaurants, donating to The Wing Luke Museum and other AAPI organizations such as SCIDpda, or creating a presence just with your body to prevent violent crimes against members of the community.
Thank you always!