A ruby-throated hummingbird recently found its home in downtown Puyallup, and it won’t migrate for the winter anytime soon.
The Puyallup Main Street Association commissioned a Pacific Northwest artist to paint a mural of the bird on the side of Charlie’s Restaurant & Lounge at 113 E. Main. Artist Curtis Ashby finished painting the 24-foot-tall and 50-foot-wide wall on Nov. 22.
The mural that used to be on Charlie’s was a replica of an old photograph of the city. It was painted about 20 years ago, and murals usually last between 10 to 20 years before they start peeling and fading, PMSA Executive Director Kerry Yanasak said.
Conversations about replacing the old mural began about three and a half years ago. Yanasak said the PMSA put the plans for the mural on the back burner when the pandemic surfaced but decided to resurrect it this year.
“Mural artists have their thing that they typically do,” Yanasak said. “Curtis does mostly birds … and I’m perfectly fine with birds.”
Ashby grew up in Sumner and considers himself a “Northwest enthusiast.” He started painting in high school and used to work at Charlie’s. It was not until 2016 that he joined Tacoma’s mural roster, during which he got to practice his skills and abilities. Tacoma created the roster to garner artists to help lead or assist with painting murals around the area.
“I specialize in painting birds, which just kind of caught my interest when I started out painting,” Ashby said.
In 2019, Ashby reached one of his biggest milestones. He formed a partnership with the Tahoma Audubon Society and painted a mural on their building, which was his way of giving back to the community, he said.
He chose to paint the hummingbird on Charlie’s because those birds are bold and colorful. Through his painting, he wanted to invoke a sense of welcoming and comfort to the downtown Puyallup area, he said.
“I feel like there’s a big sense of connection that people have with birds,” Ashby said. “I just like being able to create that connection with people.”
Yanasak said the PMSA plans on incorporating more murals downtown. Having several that share a common theme can become an “economic driver,” as people would want to come downtown and see the murals, he said.
“This enhances downtown,” Yanasak said. “We need to do more of these.”