Monroe woman works to preserve artist’s murals

MONROE — A Monroe woman has her sights set on saving snapshots of the past.

Wendy McDowell is trying to salvage some murals by local artist David Hose that showcase scenes from the area’s history. On Wednesday, she secured a new home for one of his paintings.

McDowell opened Eddie’s Trackside in 2005 with Stacie Ballweg, of Duvall. They commissioned Hose to paint a locomotive mural behind the bar. He brushed another railroad scene on the outside of the downtown building.

“He is legendary in the valley,” said McDowell, now manager at Twin Rivers Brewing Co. “They’re basically throwback murals that are snapshots of the area’s history.”

Eddie’s Trackside closed last year and the bank foreclosed on the property.

Last month, David Shoemaker purchased the building. The avid game collector plans to open a vintage arcade in the space. He said the murals don’t fit into his design scheme.

Shoemaker wants to paint an arcade character, such as Pac Manm on the exterior.

“The outside mural is still in jeopardy,” he said. “No one has come forward to save that one.”

McDowell plans to at least take high-resolution photos before it is painted over.

Shoemaker is planning to install a large projection screen in the place of the interior artwork.

He allowed McDowell to bring in a drywall worker to cut the 9-foot by 12.5-foot mural behind the bar into pieces so it can be put back together somewhere else. It took three weeks to remove the painting, which shows a locomotive engine steaming through a tunnel toward the viewer.

McDowell counts the saving of the interior mural and the addition of the arcade, which is set to open in June, as a success for the community.

Now, she is working with Valley General Hospital to put the mural in the cafeteria. Hospital CEO Eric Jensen told McDowell on Wednesday that he’d take the idea to the board for final approval next week.

“I’d like it to be of comfort so I think it’s a fine place for it to land,” she said. “It’s photorealistic and it’s beautiful.”

McDowell said Hose has offered to touch up the mural once it is in its new home.

She raised $485, nearly all the cost of moving the painting, through social media. More than 20 local people donated to the cause, she said.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to me that others were as fired up as I was,” she said.

McDowell’s mission has backing from the Monroe Arts Council.

“It’s wonderful and should be saved,” said Leonie Saaski, the council president. “His work is extremely well known and admired in the community.”

Hose is noted for his large murals that often feature scenes from the area’s logging, mining and railroad days.

Saaski said a number of people on the 15-member council looked into their resources and connections to help McDowell save the painting.

“It’s a piece of local flavor,” she said. “It represents some of the history of Monroe.”

Hose’s artwork appears in about 30 places around Snohomish County, including outside of Monroe’s Napa Auto Parts store and Keg-n-Que Tavern.

It covers the walls of the Hitching Post Cafe on Main Street, which closed earlier this year.

Now, McDowell is spearheading an effort to save those murals too.

Because the artwork depicting old Monroe and movie stars is on plaster, it is more challenging to remove. McDowell hasn’t found a place for the murals, but the Evergreen State Fairgrounds or the Wagner Community Club have been suggested.

“It could be a focal point of interest here in town. That’s my big dream,” McDowell said. “We need a little more culture.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192;

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