By Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

Christopher Gerber, an aesthetic engineer with Artists With Ecology, sees the dilapidated old Olympia Brewery building in Tumwater as an eyesore and a blight on a beautiful area, and he wants to do something about it. His proposal is to beautify the abandoned brewery by replacing the broken doors and windows with murals depicting waterfalls.

“Tumwater Falls is a unique tourist attraction on a global scale,” Gerber says. “The harmony between the forces of nature and the human constructed environment is truly epic. Unfortunately, this treasure is somewhat hidden and overshadowed by the dilapidated state of a giant structure which once was a symbol of local abundance and has been abandoned… My proposal is simple; reflect the beauty and abundance of our natural environment with murals of waterfalls. I am inviting people and organizations from local to global to co-create beauty with me through crowd funding on Together we can generate beauty and abundance where there was once lack and disdain. We will create a place of abundance rather than a place that reflects abandonment.”

Gerber feels that boarding up the broken windows with boards upon which murals have been painted would be cheaper than replacing them and would make the building more appealing to eventual buyers.

“The Broken window principle has shown that broken windows and disrepair can have an adverse effect economically on a neighborhood or even on an entire city. It is expensive to replace the windows and even more expensive to protect the new windows in a building that is in limbo,” he says.

On June 5, Gerber met with Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet and City Administrator John Doan to discuss his proposal. “It went well. They especially liked our Salmon Journey idea.”

“Salmon Journey” is a companion proposal by Artists With Ecology to create murals in the pedestrian tunnel illustrating the migration of salmon that are hatched, released and then return to spawn at Tumwater Falls Park. The proposal is to have area youth working on the murals with trained artists. There will be a community mural-painting event in the tunnel July 21.

AWE has a $10,000 goal for the mural. “Asking 10,000 people for $1 is much more appealing than asking for $10,000 in tax money,” Gerber says. “The tunnel is a great step toward doing the larger project of replacing the broken windows with art panels. It’s our campaign for beauty one victory at a time. We have already done our first mural project at Tumwater Falls to beautify the vacant brewery buildings and inspire people to interact more with the ecosystem that exists here. That first mural was a humble set of doors. It took two artists five hours and $100.00 in paint and supplies for the effect of creating a sense of context and abundance when crossing the bridge towards the brewery.”

WHAT  Waterfall mural project

WHERE The old Olympia Brewery building, Capital Way, Tumwater

WHEN  ongoing project, mural painting in July 21

(360) 970-5047