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A Mural With a Purpose

Local Teen Artist, Austin Picinich, Inspires and Brightens the Community With his Save Our Salmon Mural

Article by Caitlin Agnew

Photography by Chris Neir and Kuria Jorissen

Originally published in Kirkland Lifestyle

The idea for Save Our Salmon Mural all started in October 2021. Austin Picinich, local 16-year-old artist, was one of 28 teens from across the country selected to attend the First Tee Innovators Forum in San Jose - a weekend-long leadership summit challenging teens to develop an innovative community service project to bring back to their communities.  Austin’s idea for his project was a public art project to raise awareness for salmon - and the Save Our Salmon Mural was born. Over the following months, Austin began implementation of his project and plan. 

Austin selected SPUD Fish & Chips in Kirkland as his location.  SPUD’s has been a Seattle establishment since 1935, and the East-facing wall at the iconic Kirkland location is over 112-feet-long – a perfect wall to use to brighten up the community and raise awareness for salmon, and the owners were excited to support Austin’s plan. 

By partnering with the University of Washington’s North Lake Washington SalmonWatchers program, Austin was able to bring this mural to life by bringing awareness to the community. SalmonWatchers works to research, restore, and raise awareness for stream health and salmon populations; they work with students and community volunteers to positively impact streams like Juanita Creek.

Seattle-based nonprofit, Urban ArtWorks, helped host a community paint day on April 2nd, 2022, and over 160 volunteers signed up to help paint. The mural design features kokanee salmon (often referred to as “Little Red Fish”) in Juanita Creek, a bright vivid illustration to remind people of the wildlife we share our local streams with. “I spent several weeks drawing my design up onto the wall. I outlined the whole design as “paint-by-number” style so it’d be easy for volunteers to get involved painting it.  My goal with the design was solid colors and solid shapes, so anyone regardless of art experience could participate in bringing the mural to life.  We were blown away by the overwhelming support of this project, and were able to take several walk-ups during the Paint Day. Thanks to everyone who was involved!” said Austin. 

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