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New James Mayo mural graces Front Street in downtown Poulsbo

James Mayo, a noted Port Townsend muralist, painted this scene on the north wall of the Boehm
James Mayo, a noted Port Townsend muralist, painted this scene on the north wall of the Boehm's Chocolate building. The wall was formerly plain and green.
— image credit: Johnny Walker

POULSBO — That big, plain, green wall was bugging Bill Austin.

“It was crying out for something,” the sign maker, entrepreneur and downtown booster said of the side of the Boehm’s Chocolates building on Front Street.

So Austin — whose contributions to downtown include Kvelstad Pavilion, the mural on King Harald Vei, and the restored 1915 building now housing the Hare & Hounds — began a campaign to raise $10,000 for a mural.

The result: A wall-sized depiction of a Viking ship plying the waters of a fjord, an obvious complement to the city’s Norwegian ties.

The mural cost $10,000. Half the cost was picked up by the City of Poulsbo and the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association; other contributors include Boehm’s Chocolates, Poulsbo Lions and North Kitsap Rotary. (Austin said the mural fund is about $2,000 short. To make a tax-deductible donation through the Bight of Poulsbo, call Austin at 779-3080.)

Two years ago, Austin approached the building’s owner, Marion Sluys, and asked permission to have a mural painted on the side of the building. Then he met muralist James Mayo of Port Townsend. Austin commissioned Mayo to paint the scenic “Velkommen til Poulsbo” mural on the side of the Liberty Bay Bakery building.

“He did a pretty good job there,” Austin said. “I thought of that big wall again. My job on the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association is beautification, so I suggested it to the rest of the board.”

The rest is history. And, in turns out, by a noted artist.   Mayo — referred to by the Peninsula Daily News as “a grand scale Van Gogh whose canvses are brick, concrete, wooden boards and stucco — has painted murals on homes and commercial buildings from Sequim to Newport, Ore. He has about 30 years of experience.

He transformed the side of a wellness center in Port Townsend into a scene of a woman holding a lamb, backdropped by meadow and mountains. The exterior of a Sequim house is a forest and mountain scene, with a six-point buck on the shore of a lake. At another Sequim home, a bear emerges from a forest. A dolphin leaps from the waves on an exterior wall of an antique shop in Newport, Ore. An eagle soars above the seaport waterfront in a mural in Port Townsend.

To see Mayo’s portfolio, visit www.greatwall.us.

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