A world renowned artist will paint a new mural to honor Navy families in downtown Oak Harbor this Memorial Day.
Eva Armisén is traveling all the way from Spain to add to the gallery of murals at 720 and 740 Southeast Pioneer Way – the largest collection of public murals in the Pacific Northwest. Armisén’s mural will be the 11th to join the collection.
The gallery was made possible by the Allgire Project, an organization that was founded in 2019 by Sarah Schacht.
Schacht is the third generation of her family to own 720 Southeast Pioneer Way. Her grandparents, John and Myrtle Allgire, opened a clothing store called the Casual House in the building in the 1960s. The couple were longtime residents of Oak Harbor and were dedicated to supporting local business and nonprofits, Schacht said.
Schacht was inspired by her grandparents’ legacy to form the Allgire Project; the purpose of the mural gallery is not only to brighten the days of residents walking by, but an effort to bring more people to downtown Oak Harbor.
The new mural by Armisén will “honor the experience of military spouses when they are building lives in communities they may be temporarily in and their loved ones are deployed,” Schacht said.
The mural will depict parents and children in color but also people who are completely in shadow. This captures the joy families experience when they are living together but are also missing someone who is not physically present.
Schacht said Armisén’s work can at first glance appear simplistic “but when you hang out with the art for a few moments, you suddenly start to feel happiness.”
In fact, Armisén is known as “The Painter of Happiness” by art critics. Her work features bright colors and people with smiles and rosy cheeks, reminiscent of children’s book illustrations.
“I couldn’t think of a more perfect artist,” Schacht said. “Someone whose art is just fun for kids, fun for the family.”
The Allgire Project has launched a GoFundMe to pay Armisén for her work and cover the costs of paint, brushes, snacks and beverages for volunteers and rentals of ladders and lifts. Contribute at gofund.me/69035b09.
The Allgire Project recruits volunteer students from Oak Harbor High School to help paint murals. Schacht said the student artists get a lot out of helping the artists and executing their visions, another way murals can give back to the community.
Schacht hopes that in the future the mural will be “self-sustaining.” She plans to relaunch an online store that will sell merchandise with images from the murals. Professional photographers and videographers can pay a fee to use the murals as a backdrop.
The murals are completely community funded.
“It all happens without government funding and without big corporate sponsors,” Schacht said.