BELLINGHAM - A photographer tucked behind his accordion-like bellows camera is the latest mural to liven buildings that run along North State Street.
Other murals show a man and woman with Victorian-style big-wheel bicycles. The spray-painted works, which share a pre-20th century theme, were created by Seattle artist and Western Washington University alumnus Yale Wolf.
Wolf began working on the murals more than five years ago while attending Western to study industrial design and fix bikes at The Hub Community Bike Shop, one of the businesses in the so-called Alley District, off an alley that runs south from Depot Market Square to the South Bay Trail.
The artwork has been commissioned by a collaborative effort among The Hub, Anderson Wooden Fenders, Altility Art Studio, Positive Negative Community Photography Studio and Creative Openings. All of these businesses call the Alley District home.
Kyle Morris of The Hub said that the art is an attempt to beautify the charming but somewhat decrepit buildings.
"We're all artists down here," Morris said. "It's just nice to keep it dreamy."
On the alley-side wall of Altility is a large mural of Wiley, a dog that belonged to Aaron Loveitt of Altility. When Wiley, a popular figure in the Alley District, passed away a few years ago, Loveitt commissioned Wolf to create a piece to remember Wiley by.
A community member told Loveitt that when she saw the mural of Wiley she began to weep. That emotional level where art reaches people is what Wolf ultimately wants to achieve.
"It's something appropriate for the community," Wolf said.
The latest mural, of the photographer, fits that theme as it is on the alley side of Positive Negative. The others are on the back of Creative Openings.
Soon the collective of business owners hopes to involve more artists.
San Francisco artist and Western 2010 alumna and Hub regular Lara Buelow is in town to draft up concepts for the ongoing project.
And Wolfe plans to return to add more of his work to the buildings.
"Art is never finished," Wolf said. "It's ongoing."
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Yale Wolf is a full-time artist based in Seattle, where he works with other artists at a space they call Studio 18. See more of his work at yalewolf.com.