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Value Village Mural.jpg
Value Village Mural (Image: Ryan Henry Ward)

Where Dr. Seuss meets Picasso: Meet the man behind Seattle's murals

Just about everywhere you look around Seattle, there are big, bright murals beautifying the city. A giant goldfish greets you on Nickerson Street, there's a fox at Flatstick Pub in Pioneer Square, and athletic animals grace the walls of Adams Elementary School.

We got to watch the artist at work Ryan Henry Ward: aka Henry the Artist that is. "I'm gonna change this guy's color and make him orange," he says as he studies a giant starfish painting.

His work was actually hanging in a gallery when the cook next door proposed a deal. "The cook who was at the restaurant asked me if I could do some murals to cover up some stuff on their walls 4:23 and I said yeah and he traded me for food a beer tab," Henry recalls.

That was just the beginning. He's been painting murals in Seattle for ten years now-- two hundred and twenty-two of them total.

Henry handed his spray paint can to Seattle Refined-- and gave us a few pointers on making a mural.

In garages and by swimming pools, on doors and buildings... the city is this artist's canvas and he get commissions to paint it.

"There's so much public art in the world that doesn't appeal towards a good majority of the public but I want to make public art that's like… to me I consider a five year old a part of the public.;" explains Henry. His whimsical work is where Dr. Seuss meets Picasso. "I think my art talks to them, communicates to them, they see it and they can have a relationship with it and it can change how they perceive the world they live in."

He sees it all in his head before painting it. "I have a very visual imagination so I see a lot in my mind in a very visual way when I close my eyes it's very… there's a world I see and I pull these things from that world."

There's something so happy about his art, but Henry's colorful world went dark after the death of his brother. "When someone that close to you dies there's this emptiness in you that I'd never really felt and I feel like doing my art and public art and things like that kind of like helped heal that process," explains Henry. "I have this sense that he's here and watching me from a different realm and what would make him proud and excited and stoked and like oh wow my brother's doing it."

Impacted by a heartbreaking loss, but still full of love. Murals may be the only medium big enough for his larger-than-life artist. "I have this urge to express my love to the world it's like an inherent urge in me to give out express love, and I think my murals are a good medium for doing that."