Martin Luther King Jr. Way just got a little brighter. Over the last two weeks a team of local youth mentored by arts non-profit Fab-5 have designed and painted 20 concrete planters along each side of the street through the Hilltop area, splashes of color brightening the neighborhood.
A non-profit which offers classes, activities and professional training to youth in graffiti art, hip hop, break dancing and other arts activities, Fab-5 has been responsible for many of the murals around Tacoma, and moved into its current space at 1316 MLK Way in 2011 as part of the City of Tacoma’s Spaceworks project, which assigns low-rent arts groups to empty commercial spaces. They are now ongoing rent-paying tenants.
Mentored by Fab-5’s Kenji Hamai, painting crew Kenji Stoll, Tiffany Hammonds, Aidan Covington, Chris Yath and Dylan Buffler met with community members to come up with their designs, which they painted onto the planters between 8th and 13th Streets over the last couple of weeks.
From dull tan the circular planters have become bursts of saturated color in geometric designs – aqua, orange, hot pink, green – bringing the MLK sidewalks to life. Most still lack actual plants, but some have cascading grasses or flowers.
“It’s wonderful,” says Morris McCollum, known as Mr. Mac, who has sold suits and hats in his store on MLK Way and South Brazill Street for 30 years. “It’s colorful. That’s what we need – something snappy up here.” McCollum, who filled his planters with flowers last year when the Hilltop Business Association made funds available to business owners and has taken good care of them, says he thinks the painting helps local business.
“Anything visible (helps),” he said.
Still more planters are yet to be painted south of Brazill Street later this week. For more information, see fab-5.org.
Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 firstname.lastname@example.org