Seward Alaska’s Murals

"Kenai Fjords National Park" by Ed Tussey

For such a small town, Seward has a large collection of public art.  In fact, the Alaska state legislature named Seward the Mural Capital of Alaska in 2008 because of the prominent number of murals that can be seen around town.

Seward’s mural tradition started in 1999 with “Snapshots From Our Past,” in which two local artists painted representations of photos found in the Seward History Museum.  Many of the murals that now exist have been commissioned and maintained by the Seward Mural Society, but there are independent projects as well.

Seward's first mural, "Snapshots From Our Past" by Jennifer Headtke and Jeannie Shirk. 1999
Seward’s first Mural Society creation, “Snapshots From Our Past” by Jennifer Headtke and Jeannie Shirk. 1999.

We have admired the murals since we first came to town and wanted to learn more about them.  Fortunately for us, local artist Justine Pechuzal recently started a walking tour that covers 10 of the murals found downtown.  Justine is a young, talented artist who has completed several of Seward’s murals, including Seward Statehood Mural, an eye-catching piece featured in one of the town’s most prominent spots—the post office.  Since everyone in Seward has to go to the post office to get their mail, this is a primo place for a piece of art!

"Seward Statehood Mural" by Justine Pechuzal. 2009.
“Seward Statehood Mural” by our tour guide, Justine Pechuzal. 2009. It is one of two murals featured in the tour that commemorates the 50-year anniversary of Alaska statehood (the other is depicted below)

Cheri and I really enjoyed the tour.  We learned quite a bit about the backstory of the murals, all of which were done by Alaskan artists.  And since the pieces are all related to Alaskan or Seward history and culture, we had the opportunity to learn more about our new adopted hometown and state.  And it was fun to see the murals from the perspective of an artist.  Justine offered a skilled eye and background knowledge about the artists and the stories behind each mural, but she was also seemed genuinely curious about our impressions.  “What stands out to you about this one?” she might ask, or “Do you know the history behind this event?”  The nice thing is, she encouraged us to express our ideas, and there were no wrong answers on Justine’s tour!

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, if the murals have caught your eye, you should definitely do the walking tour.  It will give you an appreciation for how lucky we are to have such great artwork embedded within our community.  It was an easy walk covering about 1.5 miles in 90 minutes.

 

"Seward, Gateway to Alaska" by Jennifer Headtke. 2005.
“Seward, Gateway to Alaska” by Jennifer Headtke. 2005. This mural greets visitors at the Seward rail and cruise terminal.
"Raven, the Creator" by Jennifer Headtke. Part of a trilogy of traditional tales. The works were done from 1995-1997.
“Raven, the Creator” by Jennifer Headtke. Part of a trilogy of traditional tales (the other two follow, below). The works are featured on the side of Headtke’s art gallery, the Ranting Raven, and were done from 1995-1997.
"Raven Steals the Sun, Moon, and Stars" by Jennifer Headtke.
“Raven Steals the Sun, Moon, and Stars” by Jennifer Headtke.
Detail from “Raven Steals the Sun, Moon, and Stars” by Jennifer Headtke, part of the raven trilogy.
“Fog Woman” by Jennifer Headtke.  Part of the raven trilogy.
"A Tribute to Mount Marathon Race" by Susan Swiderski. 2000.
“A Tribute to Mount Marathon Race” by Susan Swiderski. 2000.  The Mount Marathon Race is the second oldest organized foot race in the country and now attracts runners from all over the globe.  It was started in 1915.
"Apologies to Rockwell Kent" by Contributing Artist
“Apologies to Rockwell Kent” by members of the Seward Mural Society.  2001.  Rockwell Kent (1882–1971) was a renowned artist who spent a winter on Fox Island, in Resurrection Bay.  The above mural is a version of a black and white piece drawn by him.
"The Iditarod Trail" by Jon VanZyle. 2002
“The Iditarod Trail” by Jon VanZyle. 2002. Jon has actually run the Iditarod twice and has been the official Iditarod artist since 1979.  Seward was the original starting point for the historical Iditarod Trail to Nome.
Detail of “The Iditarod Trail”.
"The Dawn of Aviation" by Tim Sczawinski.  2001.
“The Dawn of Aviation” by Tim Sczawinski. 2001. Air service has been an important part of Alaskan life since the beginning of aviation. In 1924, Seward was a stop on the first circumnavigation of the world by air, which is depicted in the mural.
"Tribute to Commercial Fishing" by Tom Missel. 2003.
“Tribute to Commercial Fishing” by Tom Missel. 2003. Our guide Justine pointed out that fishing has always been an important part of Seward life. It is fitting, then, that the artist, Tom Missel, is also a commercial fisherman.
"Wildflower Garden" by Gail Niebrugge. 2006.
“Wildflower Garden” by Gail Niebrugge. 2006. This mural represents the promise of summer during Seward’s long winter.
"Pony Cove" by Michael J. Corona. 2006.
“Pony Cove” by Michael J. Corona. 2006.
"Exit Glacier" 2007 Children's Mural Project
“Exit Glacier,” 2007. This Children’s Mural Project can be found in the railroad/cruise terminal.
"Remembering Exit Glacier" by Dot Bardarson. 2007
“Remembering Exit Glacier” by Dot Bardarson. 2007.  Exit Glacier sits just outside of Seward and is one of Kenai Fjords National Park‘s most famous and accessible glaciers.
"Our Flag Flies in Washington" by Dot Bardarson. 2009.
“Our Flag Flies in Washington” by Dot Bardarson. 2009. One of two murals that commemorate the 50-year anniversary of Alaska statehood (the other one is Justine Pechuzal’s piece, depicted above)
"Where We Are Going We Don't Need Roads" by the Seward High School Class of 2011.
“Where We Are Going We Don’t Need Roads” by the Seward High School Class of 2011.
"Window on the Bay" by Liza McElroy. 2012. Beautiful mural outside Seward's SeaLife Center.
“Window on the Bay” by Liza McElroy. 2012. This beautiful mural is outside Seward’s SeaLife Center.
"Table Games" and "Senior Prom" by Barbara Lavallee. 2010.
“Table Games” and “Senior Prom” by Barbara Lavallee. 2010.  These murals are displayed, fittingly, on the side of the Seward Senior Center.
"Friendship Across Water" by Justine Pechuzal. 2014.
“Friendship Across Water” by Justine Pechuzal. 2013. A larger version of this mural is located in Seward’s sister city, Obihiro, Japan.
"Beautiful Nature in Obihiro" by Ayano Taka. 2014.
Seward’s sister city, Obihiro, Japan, returns the favor.  “Beautiful Nature in Obihiro” by Japanese artist Ayano Taka. 2014.
"Salmon Double Take" by Kwangsook Schaefermeyer. 2013
“Salmon Double Take” by Kwangsook Schaefermeyer. 2013.
"Caught in Seward" by Jules Wolfe. 2013
“Caught in Seward” by Jules Wolfe. 2013
"The Irresistible Story" by Nichole Feemster. 2013.
“The Irresistible Story” by Nichole Feemster. 2013.  A wonderful mural on Seward’s beautiful library.
"50TH Anniversary of the 1964 Earthquake and Tsunami" by Carla Rogers. 2014.
“50TH Anniversary of the 1964 Earthquake and Tsunami” by Carla Rogers. 2014. This Mural marks the tragic earthquake that changed Seward and Alaska forever.
"50TH Anniversary of the 1964 Earthquake and Tsunami" by Carla Rogers. 2014.
“Where Mountains, Ice, and Ocean Meet” by Byron Birdsall.  2016.  This mural was commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
"Xtra Puffs" by Liza McElroy. 2017.
“Xtra Puffs” by Liza McElroy. 2017. This wonderful mural, depicting a tufted (left) and horned puffin, is one of our favorites.
Resources

The Seward Mural Society has a website that has information about the murals, artists, and history of the organization.  It can be found here.

A map showing the location of the murals is here.

We highly recommend taking the walking mural tour.  Here is information about times, pricing, and other details.  Private tours are available as well.

Our tour guide Justine has her own artist page.

Information and a map can also be found at Seward’s Tourist Information Office, which displays two of the murals as well.

The book Framed by Sea & Sky, by Jacquelin Ruth Benson Pels, tells the story about Seward’s community art.  The book focuses heavily on Seward’s murals.  It can be found in Seward’s library or purchased here.

*The featured image at the top of the page is “Kenai Fjords National Park” by Ed Tussey.  2008.  It can be found at the Seward Visitors Center.