Local artwork adorns the walls of Solie Funeral Home in Everett. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Local artwork adorns the walls of Solie Funeral Home in Everett. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Vibrant art livens up Everett funeral home and crematory

EVERETT — An abstract nude hangs in the lobby.

Psychedelic paintings of animals and flowers enhance the reception area.

Across the room, a flat screen TV streams burial casket options. Down the hall are the real things.

In the basement is a crematory.

What’s up with that?

Solie Funeral Home & Crematory, 3301 Colby Ave., is one of about 20 stops on Thursday’s Everett Art Walk, a free monthly event that showcases visual, literary and performing artists at downtown venues. Other sites include bars, salons, tattoo shops, galleries and a church.

Holly Mattie, operations manager for Solie, sees pairing a mortuary with the arts as a match made in heaven.

“This is such a big building, and we have so much space, and I know a lot of artists,” said Mattie, an artist-turned-funeral-director. “Having fresh art and opening it up so the public could come in for something other than funerals and cremations is a good crossover to bring awareness to the funeral home. Nobody wants to think about death or funerals. Half of our challenge is to help break down that barrier so people can feel comfortable talking about it.”

The art walk is a festive occasion.

“There will be cookies, coffee, tea and refreshments,” Mattie said. “It’s great for all ages. Elderly people can come in and hang out and we have a kids room.”

The funeral home was added to the art walk map in April at Mattie’s request.

“When she approached me, it was very unusual, but she’s part of the community,” said art walk coordinator Isabella Valencia, owner of Black Lab Gallery, 1618 Hewitt Ave. “I curated the first show, and then (for) the second show, she passed some images by me, and I said, ‘You’re on it. You’re doing great.’ ”

The June walk drew about 25 people into the funeral home. Mattie plans to add singers, musicians and projection art. The walk is held year-round from 6 to 10 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month.

Thursday’s event at Solie features a demonstration of quigong, a meditative exercise, and two artists in action, painting in front of visitors and discussing their craft.

Artist Bill Ball, a colorful character who goes by “Fireball” and often does performance painting at festivals and street fairs, will do his thing in front of the funeral home. Meghan McSwain, whose specialty is blacklight art with glow paint, will be in the darkened downstairs chapel.

If you can’t make this month’s walk, no problem. Stop by Solie during regular business hours or call for a tour to see Ball’s vibrant paintings, which will be up until the next art walk on Aug. 17.

The aforementioned abstract nude — titled “Bliss” — and a dozen others by Ball are also for sale. “Bliss” can be yours for $400.

“I was worried this might be a little too almost obscene, but it’s abstract enough that it fits in,” Ball said. “I never had art in a funeral home. I was a little nervous at first, but I said, ‘Why not?’ As an artist you’ve got to be daring. I wanted to bring something bright and energetic and uplifting.”

It was the death of several family members that led Ball, a Mukilteo electrician, to pursue his art several years ago. Painting was a healing way to process emotions.

Mattie, whose art specialty is working with India ink, began working at Solie five years ago. “They had all this old Thomas Kinkade art up,” she said.

She took much of it down on the main floor, as part of a trend to modernize funeral homes.

The family-owned funeral home was built in the 1940s and is a mixture of styles from the decades. The chapel area has white iron railings and a landscape mural.

The urn room is a gleaming gallery that looks more like fine art than finite art.

People can turn their dearly departed into accent pieces and jewelry.

“You can have the remains infused into glass. That’s really popular,” Mattie said. A lighted base is an option for a glittering orb swirled with ashes.

Heart-shaped lockets hold ashes. Or ashes can be integrated into gem stones for rings.

Some urns are as colorful as Fireball’s paintings.

Sculptures of birds and sailboats have a piggy bank-type plug at the bottom to house full or partial remains. For those who want to go green after death, there’s a biodegradable urn that contains seeds that grow into trees.

Outside the crematory in back is a new stone patio courtyard for families to gather, such as when the cremation is in process.

“They will set up and have a celebration of life right next to where their loved one is being taken care of, and to them, that is meaningful and what they want,” Mattie said. “Before I was in the industry, I would have never thought how things like that could even be possible.”

Soon, people will be able to toast their deceased beloveds and the curated art collection with a cocktail. Adding bar service is in the works.

“Families often ask if they can have alcohol during the service,” she said, “and we’d like to be able to give them that option as well.”

I’ll drink to that.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Show your art

Got art? Local artists interested in having their work showcased at Solie Funeral Home & Crematory can contact Holly Mattie at Holly@SolieFunerals.com or 425-252-5159.

Everett Art Walk

Sites include Black Lab Gallery, The Independent Beer Bar, Waxology, Lion’s Paw Tattoo, John Laurenz Barber, Artspace Everett Lofts, Siren’s Market & Coffee House, Valley Organic Deli, Sunken Ship Tattoo, Grow Washington, ReFresh Boutique & Art Gallery, Sno-Isle Food Co-op, Solie Funeral Home and Crematory, Home Inspirations, First Presbyterian Church, Schack Art Center and Anchor Pub.

More at https://everettartwalk.org.

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