City Hall Mural Depicts Anacortes Fishing History
Two public murals depict Anacortes’ maritime history on one block downtown, the “Fishing” painting by Kenneth Callahan in the Anacortes Post Office and another painting of fishing boats at the Port Dock by Glen and Craig Bartlett - on display in the Anacortes City Council Chambers since 1982. Craig Bartlett is an Anacortes High School graduate (Class of 1974) who attended The Evergreen State College and became a professional animator after graduating, eventually forming his own production company, Snee-Oosh Inc. Among Bartlett’s creations are the Hey Arnold! series and movie for Nickelodeon and Jim Henson’s Dinosaur Train for PBS Kids. Craig recently shared his memories about the mural collaboration with his father. The Anacortes Museum is happy to present Mr. Bartlett’s mural story here, accompanied by an image of the painting and an article from 1982.
In summer '82 I was home visiting from Portland, where I had started my first animation job out of school, working for Will Vinton on a claymation Mark Twain feature. Dad had agreed to paint the mural in the City Hall chambers for Mayor Jim Rice, and asked me if I would come up and help. He and I talked about the subject matter, fishing in Anacortes, which may have been Jim's request -- and we went down to the pier and decided that the mural should depict a view of fishing boats in the channel at the bottom of Commercial, with Cap Sante and the Cascade foothills in the background. Dad and I did some sketching of the view there, looking east. (Those two vintage wooden fishing boats were tied up there -- it looks like the one in front is the "Janice." Maybe someone in Anacortes knows the story on them.) Then we set up at City Hall and painted the mural in one weekend -- I probably had to get back to work in Portland the next day! I made a sketch on a grid and blew it up to wall size and we started painting. It was very direct, no wasted time. We kept the color really simple, all browns and tans. Something that scale would have been painted with large, house-painting brushes, and art brushes for the details. We painted with acrylics, a fast way to work. Dad painted the two fishing boats, and I painted everything else. We brought ladders and buckets and brushes from home, laid down a tarp so we wouldn't get paint on the carpet, and just blasted it out.
It was always fun to collaborate with my dad, and now that he's gone, I realize how precious those opportunities were. Glen Bartlett was an entirely self-taught artist who grew up and lived much of his life in Seattle. He and Mom moved us to Anacortes when we were teenagers, looking for a better life in the Skagit valley, and Dad hung out a shingle first in Anacortes and then La Conner as a "designer," doing at first interior design for homes and businesses, and eventually designing entire homes and businesses from the ground up. From 1970 until the end of his life in 2010, Dad was very busy designing and building custom homes all over the valley and the state. He never studied to be an architect, and was in fact pretty insecure about his official schooling -- as a kid his family moved around Seattle constantly and he somehow missed the entire sixth grade. But he was extremely creative. Both my parents had incredible drive. They were always making something from nothing, building from the ground up, including Dad's career. They were my first mentors, inspiring me to invent a career for myself, and so I went first to Portland and then to Los Angeles to become an animator, which I've been doing nearly as long as Dad was designing houses.