Lake Stevens man up to Pepsi challenge

Now, this is pop art.

Leif Hamar built two murals at the Navy Support Complex Commissary in Smokey Point. He fashioned colorful pop cartons, laid in geometrically precise angles, to create scenes.

On Memorial Day, there was a huge display showing the POW / MIA flag. Next he created a surf scene called “Caribbean Crush.”

We thank him for beautifying the surroundings.

And we thank him for his service.

Besides working for Pepsi Beverages Company, Hamar twice served in Iraq with the 81st Brigade of the Washington Army National Guard.

His artistic talents were pointed out to me by Tom Larsen, a former Navy carrier aviator, commissary shopper and director of Columbia College’s Marysville campus, which is in the support complex.

Larsen was impressed with Hamar’s vision.

“In this case, inspiration was caught and, in a most unique way, transformed into reality,” Larsen said. “Leif might have been thinking about how he could honor those who have sacrificed for our country and how to let others know we cherish their commitment.”

The Marysville campus offers programs for everyone, Larsen said, with an eye toward helping members of the military receive degrees while serving their country. It offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. There are 18 fully accredited undergraduate programs and three graduate programs.

Students can study at the campus or online.

Hamar graduated from Columbia College in 2008 with a degree in business administration. While on deployment in Iraq in 2009, he began work on a master’s degree, which he said he hopes to earn this year.

He’s worked for Pepsi for five years. He’s been on his current route for three months. Before that, he did sales at gas stations and convenience stores around south Snohomish County.

Work seems to suit him. He was a 2010 Census Crew Leader Assistant. Hamar, 30, lives in Lake Stevens with his wife of seven years, Tara Alit, and their 4-year-old daughter, Cetine Frances Alit-Hamar.

The Norwegian was born in Alaska and his family moved to Finland when he was 10.

He showed no early creative flair, earning his only “C” grade in high school in an art class.

Before Memorial Day, Hamar said he was upset that folks were mainly worried about the weather for the three-day weekend.

“I felt that we had lost sight of what the holiday was all about and what it means to us as Americans,” Hamar said. “So I wanted to do something to honor those who have fallen, and those that never came home.”

Who knew such a pretty mural could come from boxes? The POW/MIA mural was a fabulous representation of the flag and shows a bowed head in a prison camp.

His “Caribbean Crush” display, recently dismantled, featured a shark, a wave and a raft. Hamar spent several hours making a design template using the Excel computer program. He has a variety of carton colors to choose from, including grape, orange, strawberry, cherry and Pepsi Max, which is in a black box.

He forms the picture using the ends of the cartons. It’s even 3-D, with some cartons protruding to give depth. Co-workers help him fashion the more than 10-foot-tall murals, that take more than half a day to build, with hundreds of 12-pack containers.

Be watching in the Lake Stevens area, where Hamar may build a mural for the July 23-25 Aquafest.

Wheels are turning to promote his products and interests.

He said during his eight years with the National Guard, he’s served with hardworking people who deserve recognition. He captured his feelings when he built the POW/MIA display.

“This was my chance to give them some recognition,” he said. “So for me this was very personal. Not only did it serve as a tribute of those that came before us, but to those who currently serve.”

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451,

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