Sidney Gallery unveils historic mural today

After asking passers-by to “watch this space” for several months, Sidney Art Gallery and Museum will finally unveil its new mural by Kitsap artist Bob Ulsh today at noon.

The mural details some 60-odd years of Port Orchard history, from the time it was first platted in the late 19th century to the boom it experienced during World War II.

The 12-foot by 24-foot mural was done freehand on nine four-foot-by-eight-foot panels. Ulsh, normally a fine-art oil painter, suggested the panel idea after realizing how big the mural was intended to be.

“I didn’t come by (doing murals) intentionally,” Ulsh said. “I haven’t done one for a while and nothing of that scale.”

Working on what he referred to as “the world’s biggest easel,” Ulsh took approximately four months to finish the project.

Even though he never dealt with more than half the entire mural at a time, Ulsh did no preliminary sketch-work on the panels and mixed all the colors himself out of three pots of primary-colored acrylic enamel.

Even so, the mural is overflowing with detail — people, buildings, seagulls and even a depiction of the Carlisle II, one of the few remaining Mosquito Fleet ferry boats.

“I’m a realist,” Ulsh said. “I like detail. There’s a lot (in the mural) that can’t be seen from the street.”

Those at the Sidney Gallery and Museum are very enthusiastic over the result.

“It went together wonderfully,” said Mary Peterson, vice president of the gallery and museum’s board of directors. “It looks wonderful.”

Peterson said the board’s president was a fan of Ulsh’s work and therefore approached Ulsh, who has shown his work at the Sidney Art Gallery before, with the idea for a timeline-based mural.

Because of the scope and potential expense of the project, Ulsh donated his time to the organization. All the museum had to pay for was materials and paint.

“I doubt we could have done (the mural) had he not done that,” Peterson said.

She said the mural fulfilled several goals at once. Not only did it brighten up a blank space Peterson said the board had long dreamed of doing something with, but it will serve as an eye catcher for those residing in and visiting the Port Orchard community.

“An awful lot of people are interested in Port Orchard history,” Peterson said. “It’s a nice addition.”

She also said she hopes the mural will serve as a draw for both artists and those interested in art. Although the gallery and museum have sponsors from all over Kitsap County, Peterson said there is always room for more.

“We’re trying to bring more and more people in — not only as artists but as patrons,” she said. “I see this being an art mecca.”

The unveiling ceremony will start promptly at noon and feature music from a band and a visit from Port Orchard’s mascot, Seymour the Seagull.

The community is invited to attend.

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