It’s been drawing attention since first appearing five years ago facing an alleyway along 4th Avenue North. But with the recent opening of SanKai Sushi in the northeast corner of the 315 Main Building, word has it that the Window in Time mural by local artist Andy Eccleshall will be painted over at some point in 2020.
Window in Time is one of several downtown murals originally commissioned by the Edmonds Mural Society, the precursor to Mural Project Edmonds (MPE) It’s one of those works that draws you in, taking the viewer on a walk through Edmonds’ past from the present to the year 1850 in a five-block visual stroll down Main Street.
Along the way, the viewer’s eye passes historic Edmonds landmarks. These include the Edmonds Theater, the art deco Beeson Building, the Shumacher Building (first commercial building in downtown and current home to Chanterelle Restaurant), and the Edmonds Bank Building — finally blending into plumes of smoke rising from the early 20th-century waterfront shingle mills. Other things change too. The atmosphere moves from a full-color present to an ethereal sepia-tone past, and from a modern electric vehicle to a tall ship under full sail.
Borrowing perspective techniques from no less than Leonardo DaVinci, Eccleshall’s work tricks the eye into thinking it is looking directly down the center of Main Street regardless of the viewer’s angle — left, right or center. Window in Time continues to draw visitors as a popular backdrop for photos, allowing the subjects to become part of the scene.
On his The Muralworks website, Eccleshall describes Window in Time as follows:
“Painted for the Edmonds Mural Society this mural is a journey through time. The mural depicts Edmonds Main St. The further down Main St. you look in the mural, the further back in time you go. At the end of the street (the waterfront) the year is 1850. As your eye moves each block further towards the front, the year becomes 20-30 years later until you reach modern day on the bottom right. Each building is correct for its time in its block, according to the period.”
But time, as they say, moves on and Window in Time appears poised to become part of the past it celebrates.
“When the initial mural society was formed back in the mid 2000s, most murals were under contract for a period of usually five years,” explains Denise Cole, who heads up Mural Project Edmonds, a subgroup of Art Walk “After that period of time, the owners of the walls and businesses have the right to paint over or replace anything on their walls.” Recently, Cole said, SanKai Sushi owner Shubert Ho approached her about the possibility of painting over the current mural, and wondered if Mural Project Edmonds might consider doing a new one in its place.
Ho, who owns SanKai along with Andrew Leckie, adds: “I am not actually in charge of the mural nor have any final decision-making power as I don’t own the exterior of the building, We do not plan on painting over anything without prior approval of the landlord.”
The building, which also houses The Churchkey Pub, Salt and Iron restaurant and several other businesses, is owned by Third Avenue South Properties LLC and managed by Azose Properties of Mercer Island. Governors are Jon Mayo, Michelle Mayo Clark and Stephanie Mayo, children of the late Jacque Mayo, Edmonds dentist, booster and local entrepreneur who was involved in several Edmonds-based businesses. His obituary notes that the Edmonds Theater was his favorite. Notably, Dr. Mayo appears on the mural in the theater lobby (also painted by Andy Eccleshall), juxtaposed among some of his favorite screen stars. His likeness is in the right corner, next to James Dean.
According to Cole, one idea for a future downtown mural is a Japanese art-themed tribute to Edmonds sister city Hekinan, but whether it would be on this wall or another — or indeed even come to fruition — is still to be decided. Also under discussion is extending future contracts with wall owners from the current five years to 10 or more years as new murals go up, Cole said.
Cole explained that MPE is still in the evaluation and planning process for spring and summer 2020, so the question of what, if anything, might replace Window in Time remains undecided. She went on to stress that ultimately, it is the property owners and business owners that have control of their walls, and that MPE exists to bring “beautiful, diverse, professional art to walls in downtown Edmonds.”
Eccleshall, who has been painting murals his entire professional life, is no stranger to the ephemeral nature of this art form.
“By their very nature, murals are transient,” he explains. “The walls I paint them on are borrowed. These are private buildings, and often the owner of the building or business wants to go in another direction. They have the absolute right to do whatever they want with the building, and there’s no obligation on their part to keep anything. Muralists completely understand that these are not permanent fixtures — we’re not creating art for the ages. This will happen to all murals in the end; it’s part of the cycle.
“Am I disappointed to see it go? Of course I am,” he added. “I had so much fun doing it. Researching the project, and then actually putting the paint on the wall was an absolute blast. People would stop by and talk — I had some really great conversations. My friend Paul Anderson was a regular visitor while I was doing it and to honor him I included his car — the Nissan Leaf — in the foreground. I really appreciate the show of support and positive comments that have come our way since word got out that Window in Time would be going away. It’s lovely to hear how people feel about it.
“Edmonds is an arts culture; it’s one of the reasons we chose to live here and I’m very proud to have been able to leave my mark on the town,” he concluded. “I’ve gotten away with leaving my graffiti for years and not be arrested! We wish Shubert the best of luck with the business; we’re excited to see what comes next.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel