Mural project a big deal for local teen

Young artist adds artistic touch to station


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Brown stands in front of the mural he painted this spring at the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday, June 7, in Chugiak. Brown, who recently completed his junior year at Chugiak High, won a $500 scholarship for the acrylic paint mural, which he painted in the department’s Latimer Hall sleeping quarters.

MATT TUNSETH

With the bulk of his portfolio primarily sketched during idle time at school, Lukas Brown was a bit overwhelmed when he was presented his most recent canvas.

“I’d never worked on anything this big before,” Brown, 17, said while standing in front of his newest creation, a colorful acrylic-on-brick mural covering an entire wall inside the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department’s Station 31.

Brown was chosen for the project by former department chief Bruce Bartley, who said he wanted to come up with a way to give the sleeping quarters inside Latimer Hall a bit more character after remodeling.

“We said, ‘Let’s just leave that wall blank,’” Bartley said.

Brown’s mural certainly adds character to the room. Featuring a background of the Chugach Mountains behind an intricate map of the state of Alaska, the mural is full of hidden meaning — everything from an embedded “31” for the station number to abstract shapes and figures to a “907” to represent Alaska’s area code.

“There’s a bunch of stuff hidden in it,” Brown said.

The teen said he’s been interested in art since he was a little kid, and constantly spends class time working on his drawings.

“I like how creative it is,” he said.

Bartley found out about Brown through Denise Bennett, an art teacher at Chugiak. The former chief said he told Bennett he wanted to give a $500 scholarship to a worthy Chugiak art student and have that student paint a mural at the station’s addition, which was built five years ago.

Enter Brown.

“It was kind of overwhelming,” Brown said of earning the scholarship.

Brown said he spent hours staring at the wall while trying to come up with a design. Because most of his previous work had been on a small scale, he said he had trouble visualizing how to use such a small space.

“It was kind of overwhelming,” he said.

After making countless sketches, Brown said he settled on the colorful design, then set to work figuring out the best way to get acrylic paint onto cinder block.

“This whole thing was a big experiment,” he said.

The volunteer fire department paid for all the paint and supplies Brown needed to complete the project.

“We didn’t want it to come out of his pocket,” Bartley said.

Bartley said Brown’s creation is something the department can be proud of.

“He really did a good job,” he said.

Brown said he’d like to go to college for art and stay in the field.

As for more murals, the enterprising young painter said he’s open to the idea of painting other large murals — he even said people wanting work done over the summer can call him at 360-1233.

“I hope to make a career out of art,” he said.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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