By Andrea Brown, The Herald
Some days, mural artist David Hose spends about as much time talking as he does working.
It’s all his fault. His art is so intriguing that people can’t help but stop to watch and chat as he transforms the side of an old brick building into a colorful masterpiece.
Hose, 68, is a modern-day caveman-Renaissance man.
The lean, tanned figure with fluffy white hair and splattered jeans dips a brush into a can of Sherwin-Williams exterior paint to do the oldest form of human artwork. What now punches up drab downtowns began eons ago as a form of expression in caves, pyramids and cathedrals.
Unlike studio art, mural painting is public art from the first stroke.
“Meeting people is a big part of my work. I am very inspired by them,” Hose said. “This is absolute joy. It is something I put my heart into. I get pretty obsessive.”
Hose has done about 30 public murals around Snohomish County in the past 10 years.
His current mural on the Earl Winehart Post of the American Legion in downtown Snohomish depicts six wars dating from World War I to Iraq and Afghanistan. The callow young man holding a rifle in the first box is a representation of the legion’s soldier namesake.
The colors, weapons and faces change in the sections from then to now. Aircraft through the ages adds dimension to the expansive blue sky.
It is a beautiful yet somber scene.
“You start to relive what these people go through, even vicariously,” Hose said. “Especially talking to people. A lot are vets, and I get very moved. And when I’m moved I can paint well.”
He said it doesn’t matter that he wasn’t in the military, rejected from serving due to foot problems.
Hose hopes to have the 35-by-60-foot mural done by the end of summer. He expects to use 25 to 30 gallons of paint.
For guidance, he tapes up sketches and photos on the huge brick canvas. “You learn how little you know when you do a big mural like this,” he said.
He needed a hydraulic lift for the legion mural. Usually, a ladder does the trick.
“It’s the biggest I’ve ever done and the most complicated,” he said. “I underestimated my time, but I won’t leave the wall until I get truly what I want and what they want.”
Pat Guyot, legion commander, said Hose was the right fit for the project to replace the aging, smaller mural that needed a makeover.
“I’ve seen his work, and it’s just phenomenal,” Guyot said. “This is to show respect for our comrades in arms, for veterans and active duty.”
Hose is stirred by the human connection to what he paints.
“I love to do murals of what people love in their lives,” he said. “When I hear from them something that really moves them, that’s what moves me.”
What moves people varies. One of his early murals in the 1990s was on painted tiles for a Vegas casino.
“I did a food court mural in the Rio of a beach with ladies in bikinis,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s still there.”
He doesn’t do many bikini bods these days. Mostly of his facades are historical scenes, landscapes and school mascots.
The Seattle-area native has been drawing ever since he could hold a crayon.
“I couldn’t stop. That’s why I didn’t get very good grades,” he said. “I was always drawing and the teachers got upset. I was doodling, drawing human faces, profiles, others students. They were like, ‘Hose, come on.’ “
He went to art school in San Francisco, but dropped out after a year.
“I was looking for a purpose in my life. They wanted me to go into commercial art,” he said. “I left art school in search of myself. It was the whole generation thing in 1966.”
In 1967, he became a “Moonie,” the term used for members of the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon.
It’s where he met his wife, Takeko. “We got married in a gigantic ceremony in 1970 in Seoul, Korea,” he said.
They stayed with the church while raising a family.
“I traveled the world in counseling and lecturing,” Hose said. “For 25 years, my art was a little sketch pad I took with me to every country I visited. Palm trees, cathedrals and street scenes, that was my only connection. I was hanging on to art by a thread.”
Hose said he left the church movement in the 1990s because of a “parting of ways.”
The family settled in Bellevue, where he pursued his art, mostly doing portraits and tile paintings.
A move to Monroe in 2004 changed his focus. He started painting murals reflecting small-town life.
“Things just started taking off,” he said. “People started calling. It exploded.”
His next project will play to a different crowd. He’s doing a mural in an elementary school.
“Kids are wonderful,” he said. “They’ll come by and say, ‘I’m an artist, too. I draw bunnies.’ “
Everybody’s got to start somewhere.
More murals by David Hose
1. NAPA Auto Parts: “1950s Monroe, Downtown.”
2. The Keg-n-Cue Tavern: “The High Cascades, Alpine Lakes Region.”
3. The Hitching Post Cafe: “Fantasies of Old Monroe” and “Well-known Celebrities.”
4. Lobby of Harmsen &Associates: “Old Surveying Crew, Including George Washington.”
5. North side of Haight Carpet &Interiors: “Skykomish Fantasy, River of Life.”
6. Eddies Trackside Bar &Grill: “Steam Locomotive Coming out of a Tunnel.”
7. Gumby’s Emporium: “Monroe, a Century Ago.”
1. On Fourth Street across from the Sultan Post Office: “The Old Sultan Train Depot.”
2. Sultan Post Office: “Historical Scenes of the Sultan Fire Department.”
Bad Dog Espresso: “A Salute to the U.S. Navy and BNSF Railway Hub.”