Landmark Seattle mural is gone

by: Gary Horcher Updated:

Wall where mural was has been painted over.

SEATTLE - For thousands of commuters rushing along Airport Way South, it lured eyes to a flash of colorful curiosity. A three-dimensional look into a tranquil, green land adorned with 18th century German architecture.

The mural transformed the drab wall of a Sodo building into a peaceful-painted path. For the last six years, the mural was featured in international books and art publications. “If you look at this area, it's pretty industrialized,” said art-admirer Margie Nicosia. “So adding this one slice of art and creativity to the area gave it a whole new feel."

On Monday morning, commuters like Margie suddenly realized, the mural had disappeared. On Tuesday afternoon, KIRO-7 photographers saw painters covering the mural in another coat.

“My daily piece of joy is now gone,” Nicosia exclaimed.

The reasons why the mural was covered have not yet been made clear to the artist, or to other people asking questions. The Mercedes dealership at the site is under new ownership. They did not return phone calls on Tuesday.

The painting was commissioned by the late Phil Smart, who owned the Mercedes dealership, in 2007. He hired renowned muralist Eric Grohe to paint the scene, and it took Grohe and a small crew of art students a year to finish it. “Phil Smart watched Eric developing that mural every day,” said Kathy Grohe, the artist’s wife. “When it was unveiled, Mr. Smart called it his gift of art to the city of Seattle,” Grohe added.

Eric Grohe was painting another mural in Ohio Tuesday, and found out about the destruction of the mural over the phone. “He’s really disappointed,” Grohe said. “We believe we are entitled to some sort of explanation. I tried to contact them. I’m not holding my breath,” she said.

The Grohes say they have contracts attached to each of their murals around the country, requiring a building’s owner to contact the artist if the painting is changed in any way. A few months ago, the Grohes were told the dealership cut a door into the mural. “That was quite a shock,” said Kathy Grohe. “So I started at that time trying to figure out what was going on and what their plans were for the mural but I couldn't get anyone to respond to my calls."

Margie Nicosia is hoping the dealership might explain why the mural, which was intended to stand forever, could not be saved.

“I really wish they'd understood the city of Seattle, the community at large, and what this gift from Mr. Smart senior meant to all the people of the city!"

Mural Time Lapse Video Link Below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRrk5hOte_c