Darwin's Dream

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Dandelions, cow parsnip, snow geese, fish, and more flaura and fauna stretch nearly 300 feet across a retaining wall in this vivid mural created by local artist Rachel Holloway. Of Mercer Island and the inspiration for this work, Holloway says:

I think the essence of living on this island is the tranquility; surrounded by the lake, we are cushioned from the hectic pace of life over the bridges. We have many unique habitats, so nature flourishes. I wanted to encapsulate this in the mural, as an homage to the Pacific Northwest and my life on Mercer Island.

Artist: Rachel Holloway with Eliza Brown and Sophie Stilon

Medium: Paint on concrete

Year: 2018

Acquisition: City of Mercer Island 1% for Art in Public Places fund

Did you know?

In late 2015, the Mercer Island Arts Council began laying the groundwork for a new mural on West Mercer Way. Arts Council member An Tootill proposed the project and aimed to create a warm welcome for those returning home or visiting the Island by reimagining the first sight they see when entering the Island from the west via I-90 exit 6: a cement retaining wall. After receiving 28 proposals from artists throughout the Puget Sound area, the selection committee ultimately awarded the project to local artist Rachel Holloway.

Holloway has been a muralist, scenic artist, and production designer for the film industry for more than a decade. A fine artist by training, she has lived on the Island for several years, and her mural design, based on her own original painting titled Darwin’s Dream, reflects the “the little magical pockets of nature here on the Island.” To produce the final work, Holloway created larger-than-life stencils of her painting to adhere to the wall and spray paint the design. She and her assistants Eliza Brown and Sophie Stilon painted the mural, which covers nearly 300 feet of horizontal wall space and rises 14 feet at its highest point, over a six-week stretch in August and September 2018. Learn more about the artist and her process in the link in the "Learn More" tab.

To bring this project to fruition, Parks & Recreation staff worked closely with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), as the retaining wall falls under WSDOT jurisdiction. Other City teams, including Parks Maintenance, Public Works, and the Development Services Group, provided important assistance to make sure the artists were protected while painting the mural near a heavily trafficked area.

Take a Look

  • <p>The wall dimensions and a view of the full canvas pre-mural</p>
  • <p>Artist Eliza Brown adds details to the foliage.</p>
  • <p>Artists hard at work during the August heat</p>
  • <p>The mural in progress</p>
  • <p>The final masterpiece</p>

Watch the artists at work!

Where is it?

SE 24th Street and West Mercer Way, Mercer Island, WA 98040, USA