The paint is finally dry on a new mural in Sitka. Cara Jane Murray’s new work, Everything Comes to Life, adds a splash of color to the corner of Baranof and Oja Street, encompassing an exterior wall of a local grocery store. KCAW’s Katherine Rose caught up with Murray to find out how what’s inside Market Center helped inspire what’s now on the outside.
“Look, I have broccoli! I have broccoli!” says Cara Jane Murray. Murray has a bit of a green thumb. Her backyard is full of raised beds. From broccoli to kale, she’s growing all of the healthiest leafy greens here.
“I have what I call my rogue spinach and that’s because I forgot I put my seeds in there, and now they’re next to my beets. It’s all good, there’s room for everyone.”
She has a greenhouse too. But it doesn’t just keep her tomatoes toasty. Cara’s studio sits among the romaine and snap peas.
“This is where I do my smaller scaled painting. I’ve got my easel set up in here and my paints and my water,” says Murray.
So it was a no-brainer when she began painting the mural on the outside of Market Center she had to include the most important food group.
“I incorporated some whimsical fruit floating in the water. I felt like it would be fun to show that idea, you know, that’s how we get our food,” says Murray.
With a fishing boat on one end and a mountain on the other, each scene connects seamlessly to the next. Outlined in thick black, fish jump, birds fly, and beets and bananas roll by on turquoise and cream colored waves. Murray has thrown paint on a bunch of walls in Southeast, including Gratitude at Mt. Edgecumbe, All in a Day’s Journey at UAS, and Through the Eyes of My Younger Years at the Haines School. But at 1000 square feet in size, this is her biggest canvas yet.
“I just had this new drive to want to put more art around me and to see more art. Not necessarily my own, but just ‘Let’s paint these walls!'” says Murray.
So she approached SeaMart. She met with CEO Roger Hames several times, and he agreed to the design and commission of the project. She began the mural in August of 2015 and finished this May.
The mural, aptly named Everything Comes to Life, covers the entire west side of the grocery store across the street from Baranof Elementary, and, as the name suggests, the vibrant colors have really brought the block to life.
“If you’re hanging out in the Baranof Elementary lobby area, now versus prior to the yellows and the reds and oranges being put up on that wall, it’s just a brighter place. It’s moving light. The reflection in the windows outside of that school is amazing,” says Murray.
Murray’s palate is bright and she surrounds her images with a bold, black outline. When she was just starting out, she used to use a lot more paint.
“But I think my art has definitely simplified over the years, focused more on the form and color and structure of the lines. I’m really intentional about how I apply the paint and connect everything,” says Murray.
Though she’s evolved as an artist, Murray says it still takes a bit of courage to share her art in such public spaces.
“There’s always the chance that people aren’t going to like what you do, and that’s ok,” says Murray. “I think if people are affected in any way, whether it’s positive or negative, that’s a good thing. It’s colorful and it’s bright, and it’s creating that emotional response. That’s why I paint.”
Overall the response to Murray’s mural has been overwhelmingly positive, and has opened up other painting opportunities for her. She’s looking into two other spaces in Sitka that may need a little touch of color.