Stephanie Fries transforms Pioneer Way shop windows into swirling images of fall colors. She used some of the design she’d previously created for the Oak Harbor Music Festival. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Changing colors with the season on Pioneer Way

Artist turns musical symbols into bright shades of fall on shop windows

Paula Fries couldn’t just leaf it alone.

So her daughter, Samantha, along with Oak Harbor Guerrilla Arts Network gadabout Therese Kingsbury, gave her a hand.

Dutifully, the two tediously scraped white musical notes and symbols off Pioneer Way shop windows so Fries could follow up with her brushes and paints. The transformation took on the glow of the setting sun hours later, highlighting the golds and reds and greens of swirling fall images.

“I originally painted the shop windows for the Oak Harbor Music Festival,” Fries said, balancing brush and ladder. “Now I’m trying to incorporate as much as possible into a fall theme. The colors change but of course the symbols of Oak Harbor, acorns and oak leaves, remain.”

After receiving so many positive comments about the music festival’s unifying theme of blues and purples adorning business windows, the Main Street Association asked Fries if she could revise her art using an autumn theme. A portrait artist in her studio, Fries is known for her more public art that pops up during the holidays on street displays.

Taking a break from scraping, Kingsbury tries to entice shop owners who didn’t participate in the previous window painting.

“Do you want any leaves or acorns on your windows?” she calls into Wind and Tide Book Store.

Kingsbury started her own arts beautification non-profit this year with an eye on “changing private places into public spaces.”

She throws a persuasive pitch so a majority of shops along four blocks agreed to the new window dressing.

Driving down Pioneer Way these days provides a fall panorama.

“It brings out not only color but a sense of community,” Fries said. “It makes people happy.”

The color scheme on the shop windows changed from shades of purple and blue to the fiery tones of autumn.

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