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

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Man, 29, injured by shots fired at Everett thrift store

The gunfire followed an argument in the parking lot of Value Village on Evergreen Way.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

Old Silvana Creamery recalling whole raw milk

The milk was sold at the farm store, directly to customers and at local stores.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
If drivers paid even more, I-405 toll lanes might speed up

A report recommends lifting the maximum toll of $10 and varying it by segment traveled.

Mukilteo crabber missing; his boat was found at Hat Island

Frank Urbick set out Thursday morning but did not return.

Most Read