Massive ‘Read up, Hands down’ mural rises at 12th/Pine’s Richmark Label building

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The new mural going up at the Richmark Label building (Image: CHS)

The guidelines from Richmark Label left a lot of room for creativity: Paint over the company’s entire 12th and Pine building, sidewalk to roof. And don’t include any horizontal lines.

With that, Reno-based muralist Erik T Burke and a group of 16 to 18-year-olds got to work earlier this week on what could be the largest mural project standing on Capitol Hill today.

With the East Precinct police station directly across the street, lead artist Angela Larsen told CHS the mural will include, among other elements, a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement — a wraparound message that says “Read up, Hands down.”

“The building was not very pretty. Whatever they do will make it a lot better than what it was.”

Rickmark president Bill Donner said he basically gave Burke and youth-focused group Urban Artworks carte blanche to liven up his building that has stayed the same mauve-ish color since he bought it in 1971.

“Make it something that’s a little more relevant to the people living here today,” Donner said. “The building was not very pretty. Whatever they do will make it a lot better than what it was.”

Outside of coffee roasting, the custom label printer is one of the few manufacturers operating on Capitol Hill today.

The teens working on the project are being paid through an education and employment training program run through the King County juvenile justice system. According to Larsen, the artists hope to finish the mural in a week or two. When it’s finished, Larsen said the mural should camouflage the building while adding a massive splash of color to the intersection that just recently got a rainbow facelift.

Meanwhile, two new murals are joining the streetscapes in the Central District and on First Hill with a third popping up on a familiar E Pike canvas while 11 rainbow crosswalks have joined the Pike/Pine landscape.

The view from upstairs! #richmarklabelmural

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25 thoughts on “Massive ‘Read up, Hands down’ mural rises at 12th/Pine’s Richmark Label building

  1. Still can’t believe this place hasn’t become a six story apartment building with a first floor Yoga Studio and bank branch.

  2. The six story building is coming. That may be why he is trying to build some good will with the neighborhood with this mural.

  3. The six story building is coming soon. That may be why he is trying to build some good will with the neighborhood with this mural before the proposal moves through the design review process. It also masks the architectural details of this auto row era building that would potentially draw the attention of the landmark review board. I predict he files a master use permit to redevelop the property in the next three months.

    • Nothing yet, but this mural is a good indicator to me that things are in the works. I would bet you $20 that it shows up in the next 3 months and $100 that it shows up by the end of the year.

    • Nope! He has zero plans to leave – the art is because he wants to stay and be relevant. He’s owned it flat out since the 70s. Family run and they aren’t hurting for money — I think it’ll stick around.

    • I sure hope you’re wrong, ADH. I kind of doubt that the owner would spend a significant amount of money for this mural, if he planned on demolishing the building soon.

      The mural, no matter what, will be a great improvement for the very-ordinary building that is there. Although I am very supportive of the landmark’s designation, I can’t imagine this building will every attain that status.

    • The permit process for a project of this scale will take two years, so it won’t be demolished for awhile even if he files for a master use permit later this year. It has been too modified to likely qualify for landmark status, but it is on the list of character structures, so it will be required to go through the landmark process.. This is just a theory. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

    • What do you think though? Seems like open to interpretation.

      This is what comes to mind for me:

      Read up — educate yourself
      Hands down — use your words, not your fists

  4. This project brings new life to an historic building and will no doubt become a landmark on Capital Hill. Kudos to the owners of Richmark for making the exterior as superior as the quality of labels they make on the inside (we’re current customers).

  5. I always wondered what that building’s history was. It looks like it might have been an auto showroom at one time, with those big blank spaces being display windows that were covered over.

    • It was an old Studabaker dealership turned button factory, turned label manufacturer. Other then coffee roasters, I believe it’s the only manufacturing company left on Cap Hill

  6. His name is Erik Burke with a K :) thanks! And it’s an Urban ArtWorks project – I’m the director and we hired Erik. He’s working closely with Yale Wolf and a graffiti artist known as The Reader.