The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Dot Bardarson
For The LOG 

Friendship mural unveiled


Seward Mural Society

Over 100 people turned out for the unveling of the "Friendship Across Water" painted by the Seward Mural Society in Obihiro, Japan as a gift to Seward's sister city.

The art delegates have returned from Obihiro with a special warmth that comes from the bonding of cultures and making new friends. Fascinating are the stories they tell of their 13 days in Obihiro where they were treated like celebrities, while rolling up their sleeves to produce a giant gift to Seward's sister city.

The 32- by 8-foot mural was mounted on the already constructed framework in the zoo. Finishing the mural ahead of time pleased the astonished Japanese who apparently hadn't shared the confidence our delegates had. The Seward Mural Society with many murals under their belt, relied on their experience working with supplies, good planning and volunteer community artist wanta-be's. The Obihiro mural was painted with the help of 60 to 70 Japanese in the same spirit as is used during Seward's annual Music and Arts Festival.

The schedule in Japan was designed to include some sightseeing which the delegates enjoyed, along with welcoming parties and meeting with the mayor and the press from time to time.

The mural was conceived four years ago to be a major gift from Seward to its sister city. It took that long to design, plan, order supplies, overcome obstacles dealing with a foreign country and raise funds to augment money budgeted by the city.

The unveiling was attended by over 100 people. Little children held ropes tethered to a giant sheet that covered the mural. Anticipation was high, as they counted "san, ni, ichi" (backwards numbers) before allowing the veil to drop. The astonished crowd cheered, "Awesome!" and "It so big!"

Speeches by Obihrio Mayor Norihisa Yonezawa and Seward Mayor David Seaward boasted an increased bond between the two cities. Master artist Justine Pechuzal explained the symbolism of the scene with the Alaska moose carrying chrysanthemums across the ocean to a waiting Japanese crane, as she sprinkled water from Resurrection Bay on the mural.

Other art delegates were Kristi Larson, who was their head honcho, Jennifer Headtke, who originated the Seward Mural Society in 1999, Al Lamberson, Bethany Waggoner, Linnea Hollingsworth and Sheila Morrow.

They Skyped daily with at-home art delegate, Dot Bardarson, who forfeited her trip to stay with her sweetheart of 59 years whose health at the time was compromised.

Mayor Yonezawa said, "It's just as wonderful as I had hoped it would be. It really is a symbol of the bonds and friendship between our two cities.

In the wind is Obihiro's plan to bring a mural to Seward in 2014.

A celebration of "Friendship Across Water" is planned for Sewardites in January with a time lapse video of the event.


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