This magazine has spent the past half decade championing the merits of Public Art. Whether on a community-level, city-planning organization, or even nationally funded endowment, supporting contemporary muralism an Public Art initiatives should be a high priority for every city. Our belief is simple: art makes you feel good. Art makes you think. Art can make you connect with your surroundings, define a community's historical heritage, or enlighten its current state. And for the most part, cities are beginning to recognize the trend of highly talented artists who can transform the appearance of a locale and make it a little more engaging. 

Juxtapoz has been lucky in the past to work with various companies to implement Public Art programs in cities around North America, and we are excited this year to be a part of Small Business Saturday. The Shop Small campaign, being celebrated on Saturday, November 29, is now in its 5th year, and has gained momentum as not just a day for shopping and commerce, but a day to support independent business around the country. And now in its second year, the 2014 SBS programming again includes local artists painting murals in the neighborhoods that are epicenters of small, independent businesses. Juxtapoz was lucky to invite a few artists to participate this year, and one in particular, Seattle-based Mary Iverson, sat down with us to talk SBS, working within Public Art, and what makes the Ballard neighborhood special. 

Juxtapoz: What neighborhood did you paint in?

Mary Iverson: I painted in the Ballard neighborhood, near my studio and my home.

Did you know any of the businesses in the area? What is special about that part of Seattle?

MI: Ballard is an artsy, eclectic part of Seattle with a lot of small businesses and artisan shops, like Bauhaus Books and Coffee, Dakota Art Store, and Kavu. Ballard has a beautifully preserved historic district, which hosts a year-round farmers market, the biggest in the region. There are no big box stores in Ballard!

What makes public art important to you?

MI: Public art is alive because it is not a commodity. It isn’t bought or sold or tucked away inside of houses. For me, painting a mural is a real “art for art’s sake” activity. It’s all about color and beauty. There is nothing like the experience of putting BIG color on a wall. It is totally energizing!

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What is your mural about? What does it speak to, and what did that neighborhood spark in you?

MI: My mural features an abstract view of a field of shipping containers. I am fascinated by the shipping industry, and my work sheds light on the vast scale of global trade. This time of year is the busiest for world ports because merchants are getting stocked up for the materialistic feeding frenzy of the modern American Christmas. Containers facilitate the cheap and speedy distribution of goods around the world, making the Black Friday bargain-hunting insanity possible. Small Business Saturday offers an alternative to this madness.

A good mural is like a gift to a neighborhood; it’s a painting on everyone’s wall. Finding a site for my mural in my own neighborhood was important to me, because I love living in Ballard. I have received a lot of positive feedback and appreciation for my mural from Ballard residents, and that feels great!

For more information about Small Business Saturday and the Shop Small activities, follow here: