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Here’s how Kurt Cobain’s big face ended up back on a Capitol Hill wall

Last summer, the replacement of a Nagle Place mural of Kurt Cobain sparked a wave of nostalgia for a Capitol Hill that never was. First, the work had only been in place for half a year. Second, the muralist was a famed London street artist promoting a show at a Pioneer Square gallery. And third, the work was replaced with another by local artist and prolific Capitol Hill muralist Weirdo.

Nevermind all that.

Now the London artist, that Pioneer Square gallery, again, credit union BECU, and Capitol Hill’s Everyday Music have teamed up for a nostalgic flipside to the removed original.

“Super stoked to be back in Seattle and what better reason than to repaint my ‘Kant Complain’ mural, bigger and better than before!!,” artist DFace posted about the new work.

Commissioned by Treason Gallery and paid for by BECU, the new version graces the northern wall of 10th Ave’s Everyday Music shop. In the new location, Cobain peers from behind cars parked in the Rancho Bravo. A parking lot “PAY HERE” sign partially obscures the view.

It’s a more thematically appropriate berth for the work but much less prominent than along Nagle where Cobain’s zombie face originally rose.

Last summer’s replacement was all business — and community marketing. BECU wanted to make a statement and be part of the neighborhood’s Pride celebration so it linked up with Weirdo and found the space available from building owner Hunters Capital. “The Cobain piece was never intended to be a forever piece,” a representative for the Capitol Hill-based developer said. “When the Pride themed piece was presented, it felt like a wonderful story for this neighborhood and particularly nice timing with Pride around the corner.”

“The mural is not an advertisement. It’s a piece of art,” Stephen Black, BECU vice president of brand strategy told CHS at the time. Black said the intention for the project was to be part of celebrating Pride’s diversity and being part of “meaningful places” in the neighborhood.

Weirdo, meanwhile, who has built a street art and mural business out of sponsored paintings with depictions that don’t include overt commercial messaging and involve imagery and subjects related to the building and the community, was pragmatic about the situation. “Walls rotate. And if you’ve been in the game long enough, you’ve seen it happen to your own walls,” he told CHS last May.

The Weirdo mural — depicting a round rainbow of BECU customer faces — remains in place along Nagle.

(Image: BECU)

DFace, meanwhile, thanked his fans for raising a ruckus at the Cobain mural’s replacement :

This was only made possible by you, yes YOU, the public for standing up for public art- it’s been humbling to have seen and been apart of the reaction to my first mural being covered. And, of course, my Seattle home boys @treasongallery who really triumphed and made it possible to get me back to repaint this piece and @becu who did the right thing and corrected their error in a world they know little about. Here I am repainting ‘Kant Complain 2’!! Thanks Seattle!!

BECU hasn’t responded to our inquiries about the new sponsorship. But the link up seems natural enough. Given the way he handled his accounting, Cobain maybe could have used some help from the credit union.

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7 thoughts on “Here’s how Kurt Cobain’s big face ended up back on a Capitol Hill wall

    • Um. No.

      Public art in Seattle is awful precisely because local artists are all awful.

      We have enough public atrocities in this city already. Bring in the foreigners.

  1. Wow I am surprised that people liked that original mural. But then again, who here is really from Seattle anymore? “Like omg Kurt would have totally loooved having his face plastered on the side of a gentrified building, wearing appropriated face paint in, like, his hooometown you know?! It’s like sooo Seattle!”

    • What’s wrong with murals? It gives you something to look at when you’re out and about on the Hill other than feces, tents, and needles.

  2. As a longtime Nirvana fan, I think the mural sucks! I would like to see an “alive” version of Kurt, with Krist and Dave included!

    • +1
      I’m all for public art and remember Nirvana and that whole era of music fondly, but that mural is just hideous. It’s more a mockery of Cobain than a memorialization of him. I agree, do a realistic portrayal of the band on stage.