Bill Mitchell and the Anacortes Mural Project
Bill Mitchell Mural Project Self-Guided, Smartphone Tour
The Anacortes Museum is excited to announce a new self-guided, smartphone tour of the Bill Mitchell Mural Project. Anyone with a smartphone is invited to log onto: billmitchellmuralproject.org and begin exploring the wonderful Anacortes history, created by the late Bill Mitchell - muralist, cartoonist, artist, local historian, pirate and overall scallywag – who was born on April 14, 1949 and lived most of his years in Anacortes.
“Our hope is that people will use the website to add depth and meaning to their experience of downtown,” says Adam Farnsworth, Education and Media Curator at the Anacortes Museum. Recordings of Mitchell telling about the murals is part of the tour, adding to the context and background. “People are able to stand in front of a mural and have a much more enriched experience.”
Tour development was supported by the Anacortes Museum Foundation and its generous donors, as well as funds provided through the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.
Mitchell’s roots were deep, and his love of all things Anacortes fueled his passion to preserve and honor the rich history on Fidalgo Island. Always one to champion saving a cherished building and hoping to spruce up the community, Bill created the Anacortes Mural Project. The first mural was mounted May 3, 1984. The project generated a life of its own and currently there are over 160 murals on display and several that were still in the planning stages. Bill loved parades, mermaids, cars, pirates, World War II mementos, to name but a few. He would share his vision and enthusiasm with everyone who took the time to listen. His impact will remain within all of us.
Self-Guided Mural Tour How-To:
Individuals can get started on their own by launching billmitchellmuralproject.org on a smartphone and navigating to “The Mural” located under “The Murals” menu item. From there, they can tap the Google Maps center location icon: a small compass around a circle, under the “Map” button in the top, left corner of the map. This will use the phone’s GPS features to center the map on the user’s location. The pin icons indicate the locations of each mural, and by tapping a pin, one can see the mural at the specific spot. Further, by clicking through to the post for each individual mural, users can view additional information about the mural, its subject, related history, and more.
A Brief History of The Mural Project
In 1980s Anacortes, Mitchell along with a group of a couple dozen other community leaders banded together under the Anacortes Renaissance and Revival Confederation. The intent of the Anacortes Renaissance and Revival Confederation was to bring life back to downtown Anacortes during a period where the future of the town was somewhat hazy. This initial meeting is where the idea of murals first surfaced. Intrigued, Mitchell brought several images to the group’s second meeting, got a thumbs-up, and by the third meeting, took charge. Thus the Anacortes Mural Project (AMP) was born. The idea behind it was that the murals would not only draw tourists and business to Anacortes but encourage current downtown business owners to do their part in beautifying the area. “I had the time and the background, education, and experience to be able to head up a mural project and I had a work space.” Equally important was “enough talented friends that I felt I could put together a crew.”
The Anacortes Women’s Club sponsored the first mural - Fred White and his 1891 safety bike - for a scant $50. Mounted May 3, 1984, the mural was christened with a bottle of Miller Hi-Life. In a shower of beer and broken glass, the Anacortes Mural Project was launched.
The projects 35 year lifespan would spawn over 160 unique murals, located today everywhere from the Port of Anacortes to the State Ferry. It could be said in that time the original goal of the Anacortes Renaissance and Revival Confederation has been achieved. Downtown Anacortes is more beautiful than ever, with heart and personality to rival towns much more well established and populated than ours. Mitchell left Anacortes with a priceless gift that not only irreversibly changed the town, but helped define it.