Tara Velan is a local muralist whose mural at the Seattle Electric building, in the Westlake Marina neighborhood, caught the attention of Megan Ibarra, Case Manager at our Nyer Urness House program.
“It was just a vibrant, neon, beautiful mural,” Megan said. “It just so eye-catching, I saw her Instagram name on it, and I looked it up right away.”
“In our staff meetings we’ve been talking about getting some sort of graffiti art or mural on the large wall in the community room.,” said April Aiken, Program Manager of Nyer Urness House in Ballard and Compass on Dexter in South Lake Union. “Megan invited her out to see the room and Tara offered to paint the space for a very good price as a way of giving back to the community.”
Nyer Urness House, located in Ballard, provides 80 units of permanent supportive housing to people who were chronically homeless. There are also supportive services like case management, daily meals, and an on-site medical clinic operated by Neighborcare Health.
There has been a growing movement in Nyer to add art or enhancements to warm up the community spaces and to create something uplifting and vibrant. This piece is visible from the street due to the floor-to-ceiling windows. We hope it will bring some cheer as people walk by and help build even more community at the same time.
Tara worked with Megan and April to come up with a theme for the mural and decide what type of imagery to use. Working together, they came up with a theme of cultural patterns.
“We didn’t want something as simple as a bunch of national flags or something stereotypical,” Tara said. “We wanted to use cultural patterns because they are so interwoven and intersecting.”
The patterns are as varied as Oaxaca floral patterns from Mexico, Kente cloth from Nigeria, and the simple message of “Welcome to Nyer” is flanked by a sun on the left and a moon with a large dream catcher on the right.
“To me, community artwork is so important,” Tara said. “This was my first indoor piece of this size, and I would love to do more work in spaces involved in bettering the community. Working on this piece has been wonderful for my spirit and I’m happy with it.”
Recently, we opened the space back up to the residents of Nyer and now the space is again available for folks to relax, drink coffee, and build community.
“Working with Tara was great,” Megan said. “She is such an incredible and gifted artist and I’m so grateful that Tara was just as excited for this project as we were and put so much thought and effort into it. This mural gives the feeling of having a fresh start and growing into the person you want to be. Looking at it, you see the vibrancy of the sunset and the tranquility of the night and there is so much up for interpretation and that’s what I love the most.”