A quote from the popular movie Finding Nemo – “all drains lead to the ocean” – was inspiration for the storm drain mural implemented on the street corner of Edgewood and Oceanway. Necanicum Watershed Council, in coordination with the Seaside Downtown Development Association, worked together to implement a trial side-walk mural as a way to raise awareness to storm drain pollution and integrate art into downtown Seaside.
“The Seaside Downtown Development Association (SDDA) Beautification Committee has been interested in ways to add color to the downtown corridor during the winter months,” says Melyssa Graeper, Necanicum Watershed Council coordinator and SDDA Beautification Committee member. “The people in charge of gardening and landscaping do a spectacular job of incorporating colors and textures, but winter is hard, and the SDDA has been looking at sculptures, murals and art pieces for downtown.” With overarching goals to take care of ecological health and improve scenic aesthetics for tourism, partnering with the Necanicum Watershed Council on an environmental awareness art piece became a natural partnership.
Utilizing excess paint from the City of Seaside Public Works Department, Graeper spearheaded the project and commissioned artist Amber Wishoff of Tillamook to develop the design and implement it throughout the summer of 2017. While the SDDA and Public Works Department were supportive, Public Works Director Dale McDowell suggested a trial mural to ensure that the art will withstand Seaside’s sandblasting winds, salt and routine street maintenance. “I am really appreciative that McDowell is willing to help us and think through logistics,” says Graeper.
The City of Seaside has been continuing to update infrastructure and improve storm drain catchment and filtration systems, but floating material such as plastics, organic materials, trash or car fluids still can enter the storm drain. While the trial mural storm drain empties adjacent to Quatat Park, the majority of storm drains throughout the downtown area drain directly into the Necanicum or Neawanna Rivers. “The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about what pollutants are entering our rivers and our ocean through open littering on the streets,” says Graeper.
Factors such as the type of aggregate pebbled concrete that the mural is painted on are cause for concern for the success of the trial. In community street mural projects that the Seaside pilot mural was modeled after, a smoother, brushed concrete extended the life of the mural to an expected six to ten years. Therefore, the mural will be observed over the next year and then reevaluated by the SDDA before moving forward with a larger scale project. If there are any signs of chipping, the mural will be immediately removed.
If the project is approved to move forward, the larger scale project would require a full scale request for proposals from artists and would undergo review by the SDDA, the Watershed Council, the City Council and the public. Mural sites, painting strategies and design would be selected based on the lessons learned through the trial project.