Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor High School junior Kaydence Murdock, front, and artist Nikita Ares paint the wall where the next Allgire Project mural will go.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times Oak Harbor High School junior Kaydence Murdock, front, and artist Nikita Ares paint the wall where the next Allgire Project mural will go.

Community comes together to remake rained-out mural

Oak Harbor community members saved a new mural that was washed out by last weekend’s rain.

Oak Harbor community members came together this week to save a new mural that was washed out by last weekend’s rain.

Despite the extra effort and time needed to recreate the piece, artists and organizers said the final product was even more beautiful for having been redone.

The new mural was painted by Seattle-based artist Nikita Ares. She said the colors of local Oregon grape plants and the welcoming energy she felt when she came to the city inspired her design.

“I wanted to express that warmth of Oak Harbor that was given to me,” Ares said.

She began painting on Thursday, Oct. 14, with assistance from five Oak Harbor High School students. They intended to finish the next day, but when the team returned to the site Friday morning, they found nothing but the soggy remains of the previous day’s hard work. Late night rains had effectively rinsed the paint from the wall.

When community members learned what happened, they jumped into action.

Members of Maines Taekwondo helped paint over the ruined mural, repriming the wall for Ares to start the process over. Jim Woessner, Oak Harbor council member, and his son donated a large tarp to project the second attempt, and Diamond Rentals gifted the use of a heat blower to help the paint dry faster.

Two of the five high school students who helped paint the original mural returned to work on the new rendition. Candlewood Suites had already donated Nikita’s stay in the city, and when the mural was washed away, they extended her free stay so she could paint it anew.

“It just made me feel happier that Oak Harbor was so active in helping out, making this work out for me and making it a lot easier,” Ares said. “It didn’t feel like a negative experience at all.”

Oak Harbor resident Sarah Schacht, who organized this and other murals in downtown Oak Harbor, said they wouldn’t have been able to afford to redo the project without the generosity of local businesses and individuals.

“We would have been way over budget, cutting into other potential murals, without their help,” Schacht said.

In the end, Ares said the finished product turned out better than the original.

“Thank God it rained,” she said.

Ares’s new mural is one of many found on the walls surrounding the parking lot next to Maines Taekwondo on Pioneer Way. The location is home to the Allgire Project, an initiative founded by Schacht to capture the flavor of Whidbey Island through art and attract residents to local businesses downtown.

The murals in the Allgire Project outdoor gallery honor Oak Harbor’s cultures, industries, history and ecology. Ares’s mural falls into the latter category.

The project, founded in 2019, is still in its early stages, but Schacht said she hopes to establish a rotating schedule to continually introduce new murals into the gallery.

“While the pandemic threw us off schedule a little, the idea is that no mural lasts more than three years, so there’s always something new to come and see in downtown,” she said.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor High School junior Amelia Dawn Nguyen, left, artist Nikita Ares, center, and Oak Harbor junior Kaydence Murdock show off their freshly re-painted mural on Pioneer Way.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times Oak Harbor High School junior Amelia Dawn Nguyen, left, artist Nikita Ares, center, and Oak Harbor junior Kaydence Murdock show off their freshly re-painted mural on Pioneer Way.

Photo provided
The original mural was smeared by rain late Thursday night.

Photo provided The original mural was smeared by rain late Thursday night.

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