Marysville artist’s graffiti turns legitimate

EVERETT — Guy Cadwallader Jr. stood looking at a blue wall inside of a Snohomish County administration building.

On the wall, in pencil, the 16-year-old had sketched the word, ‘Reach.’ He was trying to decide what colors to paint the big bubble letters. The roughly 11-foot wide wall outside of the county executive’s office was his canvas.

“It gets kind of tight,” Guy said as he pointed to the word in late October. “But it’s symmetrical and it’s perfect and it all fits.”

The teen from Marysville tightly fastened a respirator to his face. He picked up a can of yellow acrylic spray paint and started working on his mural. It was the first time he’d painted in at least six months, Guy said. But he is no stranger to spray paint.

Guy used to seek out exterior building walls, windows and billboards to spray paint graffiti. In late 2010, the Marysville teen found himself in trouble for vandalizing public property.

“It became doing graffiti to living, breathing, eating and sleeping graffiti,” he said. “I destroyed a lot of property here in Everett and I made a lot of mistakes.”

Since then, Guy has served time at Snohomish County’s Denney Juvenile Justice Center and paid restitution for the damage he caused. He started a new future for himself that includes learning new drawing techniques, working at his first job and studying aerospace engineering at Everett Community College.

“Everything’s kind of falling into place,” he said.

Several local school districts and other organizations were asked last month to find student artists who liked painting urban, contemporary pieces, said Wendy Becker, economic and cultural development officer. Guy was recommended by Henri Wilson, the art program coordinator for Promising Artists in Recovery. The program is part of Reclaiming Futures of Snohomish County, a program that helps youth in the Snohomish County juvenile court system.

Wilson met Guy about two years ago when he was a student in her art and poetry class. A year later, when a friend and another student of Wilson’s was commissioned to do a mural in Edmonds, Guy asked Wilson to consider recommending him for a job.

“He’s a good representative of himself,” Wilson said.

Guy was selected from six applicants by County Executive Aaron Reardon to paint the wall. He received a surprise stipend of $250 earlier this week for his piece, “Reach.” The mural includes the word painted in yellow and blue with a cityscape above it that represents Everett. The phrase, “Reach — It’s out there” runs below the word along with Guy’s name.

The message applies to everyone, Guy said.

“No matter what your goals are, no matter what you’re striving for, if you make that leap of faith, it may not turn out instantly but I bet you it’s going to come to you,” he said.

The piece was well done and “jumps out,” Reardon said. It’s more than a mural on the wall.

“I look at it through the lens of what this means to this young man and a lot of people out there that make this mistake,” he said. “Graffiti without permission is vandalism. He’s no longer a vandal; he’s an artist.”

A written explanation of the piece was placed near the artwork. It asks those who see it to “take time to recognize the technique and skill that go into creating this public work … And, remember to ‘reach.’” The message in the art is important, too, Reardon added.

“It tells a story as well and that’s to go for your full potential and never stop,” he said. “For this young man to put this down … It’s a window into him.”

Guy is happy with how his piece turned out: “I would say I went from thinking I had no hope, from being hopeless, to having more than I could have ever asked for.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Vegas, LA, Phoenix, and more destinations from Paine Field

Alaska Airlines will fly to eight West Coast cities out of Everett starting this fall.

Three teens arrested for Marysville school vandalism

Windows were broken and a trash bin was on fire Sunday night at a Marysville middle school.

Langley mayor threatens newspaper with lawsuit

The mayor threatened to sue the paper over claims he withheld public records disclosure information.

Divers called to recover body after train hits pedestrian

The accident was reported by a BNSF crew near Woods Creek in Monroe.

Marysville police send abandoned, unclaimed bikes to Zambia

“Out where we are, a bicycle is upward mobility,” said Kelly Huckaby, a missionary in Africa.

Man shot dead after argument at bar south of Everett

Police say an employee of the bar shot and killed the man, who had opened fire in the parking lot.

Most Read