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Finholm’s Market and Grocery undergoes transformation

Lita Dawn Ansich works on the new mural Monday on the front wall at Finholm’s Market in Gig Harbor.
Lita Dawn Ansich works on the new mural Monday on the front wall at Finholm’s Market in Gig Harbor. Staff photographer

A transformation is occurring in the Finholm District along North Harborview Drive.

The flutter of activity around Finholm’s Market and Grocery provides the biggest hint to the changes to come. The landmark Finholm mural, previously painted over, is being repainted.

For Monte Hester, who owns the building that houses Finholm’s, the decision to repaint the mural was largely a personal one. His wife, Teddi, is the daughter of John Finholm, the original owner and founder of the market in 1935.

“We wanted to refresh the building to make it look better,” Hester said. The couple live next door to Finholm’s, in the Finholm Market District along North Harborview Drive.

Along with aesthetics, the Hesters also wanted the new mural to celebrate the history of the Finholm district and to honor Teddi’s father and uncle, Edward, who also worked in the store.

“The mural has a lot of meaning to our family,” he said.

Finholm sold the building in the 1970s and the Hesters purchased it about 15 years ago.

Several artists expressed interest in the project, but the Hesters chose to contact local Gig Harbor artist Lita Dawn Ancich to take on the project.

Ancich also has strong local ties that date back to the early days of Gig Harbor. Her father, George Ancich, was a founding community member and local fisherman who frequently undertook fishing trips with Edward Finholm. According to Ancich, the Finholm Market provided the food that her father took on his fishing trips.

Ancich accepted the mural project enthusiastically.

“I thought, ‘What a great adventure,’” Ancich said. “I love doing historic pieces.”

Teddi provided an old photograph that she had found of the original Finholm market, containing both John and Edward along with their original delivery truck. The photograph served as the foundation for Ancich’s design for the mural.

The mural, which measuring roughly 45 by 14 feet, is the biggest piece of artwork that Ancich has ever undertaken. It is also her first mural. Faced with the scale of the project and a new medium, she decided to reach out for a collaborator. She found Bob Henry, a local muralist and Pacific Northwest native, online.

Henry, a former billboard and sign painter, has been working as an artist since he left the military in 1978. He has an extensive portfolio containing public art and murals, with several pieces in Tacoma and Puyallup. The Finholm mural is his first in Gig Harbor.

The mural has been designed to look like an old photograph. It is being painted in sepia tones, and Ancich is working to put details on the faces of the figures.

Henry and Ancich are currently working on the lowest level of the mural now and will move onto scaffolding to complete the levels higher up on the wall. They estimate the project to be finished in about three weeks.

Both Ancich and Henry say that they have been receiving positive feedback and support from the community as they work.

“The environment couldn’t be better for a muralist,” Henry said. “Everybody’s asking questions and been really enthusiastic and appreciative.”

“It’s been a really fun project,” Ancich added. “I feel really fortunate to have been contacted.”

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