Thursday, June 29, 2017 This Week's Paper

Theater lands butterfly mural from Grant students

Grant Center for the Expressive Arts, a magnet school in Tacoma for artistically talented grade-schoolers, took their lessons to the world last weekend. Students volunteered in three shifts of three hours each to paint a massive mural on the west side of Tacoma Little Theatre's building along ‘I’ Street.

"It was all Eileen's idea and she made it happen," TLT Office Manager Jen Aylsworth said.

The process started in the spring when some sketches by two Grant first graders provided the metaphor of a caterpillar and a butterfly with the tag line "Where Transformation Happens." The students’ drawing came into focus as a way to express how the painting of the mural and the dramatic arts within the building changes lives by boosting creativity and expression.

The 13-by-35-foot wall was blank in the morning and fully painted with a caterpillar and butterfly by dinnertime thanks to a small army of elementary students from Eileen Newton's art class.

"That happens to students as well as at the theater," Newton said.

The blank cider block wall had been problematic for the theater, with the occasional hate-spewing graffiti appearing overnight from time to time. The mural is an effort to spruce up the wall as well as add to the artistic landscape for drivers along the North Tacoma street. Fear not: the theater's other mural facing the east was not affected by either graffiti or the mural addition. The only unpainted wall at the theater is its south side facing an alley.

"That could actually be done, but I don't think anyone is going to volunteer to paint an alley since no one is really going to see it," Aylsworth said.

The mural is the latest partnership between the theater and the school, since the school stages its spring musical at Tacoma Little Theatre every year and TLT used the school as a back up rehearsal space.

Grant students are also gearing up to paint holiday messages on storefront windows along Sixth Avenue starting in November.