MUKILTEO — It hides in plain sight.
Thousands of people have driven by the “Ferry of Oz” mural in the past 12 years and not seen it. You are probably among them, clueless of its existence.
What’s up with that?
To see this artwork of garage door proportions, you have to be on foot or bike. It’s visible from the south side of the sidewalk on Mukilteo Speedway, several blocks up from the entrance to Lighthouse Park and Ivar’s.
Be on the lookout. All of a sudden, it’s just there. If you’re focused on the line for ice cream cones at the fish bar you might miss it.
The mural covers the double door of the garage at the yellow Third Street home of longtime dwellers Sharon and Donne Pittman.
“I always wanted to paint something on it. It was blah-looking,” Sharon Pittman said. “I wanted something whimsical.”
Well, she got it.
The vivid mural has Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion following the Yellow Brick Road to the ferry, with Toto in the lead. Ivar’s is on the right and an orange sun sets over the water with Whidbey Island in the background.
The ferry is Oz in the mural, but don’t expect to see a name like that in real life. Ferry names must have cultural or regional significance and pass the complicated muster of the Washington State Transportation Commission.
The mural was painted in 2009 by Monroe artist David Hose, whose work covers many walls in Snohomish County, especially on the eastern side.
Hose was the inspiration for Sharon Pittman to gussy up her garage door.
“Every time we went east of the mountains, I just admired those in Sultan so much,” she said.
It was just what she wanted for those bland garage doors that bothered her, not Donne.
Her husband responded in typical spousal fashion when she told him her scheme: “He said, ‘Oh, that’s crazy,’” she said.
But after decades of marriage, he knew it was no use trying to talk her out of it.
She tracked down Hose with her request.
He was all in.
“We put our heads together,” she said. “He drew it up.”
Hose, 76, did a year in art school in San Francisco after high school. In 1967, he became a “Moonie” at Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and married his wife, Takeko, in a mass ceremony in 1970 in Seoul, South Korea. They left the church and returned to Washington in the early 1990s and he started transforming blank walls into giant artworks.
Hose did a beach scene of women in bikinis on painted tiles in a Las Vegas casino, but most projects are historical scenes, landscapes and mascots at schools. He devoted a year to the 35-by-65 foot painting that depicts six wars and local fallen heroes on the side of the American Legion on First Street in Snohomish.
Hose, contacted last week, said he has fond memories making the Ferry of Oz mural.
“It was a happy month,” he said. “I just wanted to make it fun. I wanted to give them a good feeling as they walked out the door. It’s just a beautiful place. Man, when I get old and too shaky to do murals I’d love to live there.”
The park and the waterfront are the Pittmans’ front yard.
The house was built in the early 1900s. Sharon and Donne moved into the place in 1971, with children ages 18 months to 12. His parents also moved in.
“It was just a small two-bedroom, one-bath house,” she said. “We rented it for two years. The boys slept in the basement. It was damp and cold.”
The Pittmans bought the house in 1973, adding rooms and renovating as they raised six children there.
“We paid $34,000 for the house,” she said.
The mural was $3,000.