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Mural celebrating commercial fishing history comes during historic time: Largest sockeye run since 1913

San Juan Island artist Annie Howell-Adams hangs her mural on the Nichols Street side of the Ace Hardware building, Wednesday. The series of aluminum panels honors the commercial fishing history of the San Juan Islands. A public unveiling is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2 p.m., at the site. - Jane K. Fox
San Juan Island artist Annie Howell-Adams hangs her mural on the Nichols Street side of the Ace Hardware building, Wednesday. The series of aluminum panels honors the commercial fishing history of the San Juan Islands. A public unveiling is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2 p.m., at the site.
— image credit: Jane K. Fox

Artist Annie Howell-Adams couldn't have planned it this way, but Wednesday turned out to be a most appropriate time to hang her mural celebrating 100 years of commercial fishing in the San Juan Islands.

This season saw the largest sockeye run of Fraser River sockeye since 1913 — an estimated 34 million fish, second-largest only to the 39 million recorded in 1913, according to fisherman Jack Giard of Lopez Island, a member of the Pacific Salmon Commission's Fraser River panel.

Howell-Adams' mural has been a work in progress for almost a year. The project was approved by the Friday Harbor Town Council and also had the support of the Friday Harbor Port Commission. The project was realized by Danmoor LLC, which made its building available and privately funded the mural.

The public arts project gained momentum as the community became involved: Fishing families contributed historic glass-plate negatives, hand-colored photos and scrapbooks for the artist to consider in painting the mural. Howell-Adams said she sees this process as the best in a community arts project, a way for Friday Harbor to tell and share its fishing story.

While she began hanging the painted aluminum panels Wednesday, the public unveiling is scheduled Sept. 12, 2 p.m. The mural is located on the north side of the Ace Hardware building, 195 Nichols St.

The artist has given visual expression to important local history, showing the pride Friday Harbor has with its long connection to salmon fishing. The mural — 12 feet by 60 feet — is painted on a series of aluminum panels. Each panel tells its own story, collectively portraying the island’s fishing heritage.

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