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