As the Bellingham Farmers Market opens for the spring and summer seasons, two Bellingham artists prepare to install a permanent mural at the Market’s Depot Square home.
With a finalized concept planned and drawn out, mural artist Gretchen Leggitt and printmaker Sarah Finger will go to work painting a mural in downtown Bellingham’s Depot Square for the Bellingham Farmers Market on May 17.
The mural comes as a result of a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that ran from early February to mid-March 2021. Lora Liegel, director of the Bellingham Farmers Market, set up the campaign.
“The funds for this project were 100% donated by [the Bellingham] community, which I think is just a beautiful metaphor for what the market is all about,” Leggitt said. “Credible, community-driven events and community-driven art to better make our city more positive and more enriched.”
Leggitt started off as an illustrator and painter focusing on smaller-scale projects. She was introduced to the world of mural painting about four years ago when a friend asked her to paint a large-scale piece of art outside his cafe.
Since that experience, Leggitt has shifted her work toward public domain. She said this allows her to create higher-impact art pieces. Leggitt reached out to Finger at Skyline Printworks. Leggit said she values Finger’s creative process and the agricultural and botanical-based topics of her block prints.
For Finger, taking part in the mural’s creation became a chance for her to put a stamp on a space that holds deep personal meaning. Finger’s father, Mike Finger, was a founding member of the Bellingham Farmers Market.
Sarah Finger grew up on her family’s farm, Cedarville Farm, and spent many weekends of her childhood at the market.
“I remember growing up at the farmers market when the Depot Market building didn't exist yet. It was just an empty parking lot with a bunch of pop-up tents,” Finger said. “I think it's just, like, another step in the evolution of the market and really solidifying it as a community space that brings people together.”
Amy Guerra, the marketing director for Visit Bellingham Whatcom County, highlighted how the Bellingham Farmers Market brings focus to local produce and sustainability. She mentioned how the market allows for immersion into Whatcom County's richness and the impact art makes on those visiting the area.
“A community's public art promises accessible, multi-generational activities and communicates the spirit of a place,” Guerra said via email.
Well-known Seattle illustrator and muralist Stevie Shao shared a similar point about the way public art expresses what a community celebrates.
“This is especially true when the artist is from the area,” Shao said. “Besides the immediate sense of beauty and scale from larger works and work that is integrated into the cityscape, public art can be a sort of morale booster and mouthpiece for different neighborhoods.”
Finger said the project made her look forward to the learning opportunities and the combination of each artist’s style.
Leggitt expressed a similar excitement, saying how both artists have known each other through Bellingham’s arts community.
“I think that creative collaborations are incredibly valuable for community building, and for my own aesthetic,” Leggitt said. “You know, we can only do so much alone.”
Joslin Keim is a third-year PR journalism major and a city life writer for The Front. Joslin’s writing focuses on the arts in and around Bellingham. Contact Joslin at firstname.lastname@example.org or @joslinkeim on Twitter.