An Enumclaw-based artist is one of six finalists selected by officials at the Seattle Space Needle whose design might adorn the roof of the iconic tower if the voting public wills it so.
Ryan 'Henry' Ward's 'Deep Blue Sea' design was selected by a judging panel of about 500 that included Skip Berger, author of Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle, according to a press release.
The contest is a part of this year's 50th anniversary celebration of the Space Needle. All the finalist designs are viewable at www.spaceneedle.com/topthis.html, and the public has through Saturday, Oct. 20 to vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Oct. 21 on the anniversary of the closing of the 1962 World's Fair and the painting would begin soon after that - weather permitting.
Officials aim to have the design on the roof through April 21, 2013.
Ward, who graduated from Enumclaw High School in 1994 and still calls Enumclaw home, took some time to answer a few questions for Patch about his art and why you might want to cast your vote for him.
What do you do? I'm a professional freelance artist. I paint murals and canvases.
Growing up in Enumclaw, when did you realize you wanted to become an artist as a profession? In high school, I was publishing on the back of Tom Mannings' comic book. I had a strip called the Cheese Life. Kind of Far Side-ish. I was also the artist for the yearbook in 1993. It took a long road of being a social worker and owning a landscape company with my brother until I realized what I truly wanted to pursue. I've always done art, just started doing it for a living about 5 years ago. I have since painted 126 murals in Seattle.
Where can we see some of your work? Most of my work can be seen in Ballard. The biggest one is on Value Village on NW 85th St. and 15th Ave NW. It's 3,000-square feet. Or visit ryanhenryward.com to learn more.
What art classes did you take in high school? Any teachers who helped you find your passion? Mr. Becker who was the yearbook teacher really saw my gift and put it to use. I think he was the main teacher to believe in my art, although I had a pretty good comic strip going in Mr. Bastyens' math class.
How did you come up with the 'Deep Blue Sea' concept? What was your inspiration? I designed the Deep Blue Sea design because of my murals I've done in grade schools. I have a philosophy about art - that it should be accessible to everyone, and that children are our future and we should make art that they enjoy. So much art is above the heads or boring for children. I believe a five-year-old's experience of the world is as important as an adult's. I'm often criticized for this view in my public art - that it's too immature. But I find real value in doing what I do for the minds of our children. My fans span a wide age range, I just like to be all inclusive. This mural design was specifically for the kids who have murals in their schools, that they may feel a real connection with their city and know it is a magical and good place to grow up.
What was the process to be narrowed down as a finalist in this contest? Originally the competition was open to any resident of the United States. They had submissions from all over the country. A panel of judges spent a couple of weeks narrowing it down to the 6 finalists, mine being one of them.
Why should folks vote for you? I have a lot of pride in where I've grown up. I love Enumclaw. I actually live here now. We often hear of our famous sports people from Enumclaw, and that's great and gives us civic pride, but so many kids have other talents such as art and music and scholastics, that it would bring a huge amount of pride to our town in a new and healthy way. Imagine a local Enumclaw guy designing the art for the top of one of the most famous, most photographed buildings in the world!