A new mural featuring salmon, seals and other sea creatures is nearing completion in downtown Ketchikan.
On a cloudy afternoon in late August, artist Ricardo Burquez was putting the finishing touches on one of more than 100 salmon included in the approximately 180-foot mural. The piece is on a fence along Dock and Main Streets.
Originally from Tijuana, Mexico, Burquez has lived in Ketchikan for 20 years, creating art around the community. He uses acrylic paint and says he prefers working on cloudy days so the paint won’t dry too quickly. Burquez says acrylics are ideal for mural painting. He says he could put a coating on the finished piece to protect it from the weather, but prefers not to.
“We’re applying metallic and mother-of-pearl and glaze on some of the fishes. If I apply some kind of clear coat, I believe it will kill much of these effects.”
Burquez say he’ll likely have to do touch up work in a few years. He says he was asked to do a mural with salmon or the ocean, but was given creative freedom.
“I have all the freedom to express my own compositions. Sometimes I made sketches and showed them to them. Some people know my work already and let me do it my way.”
In addition to depicting the five species of salmon, the mural features whimsical harbor seals and tidal creatures such as star fish and clams. Burquez says the other creatures were added, in part, because of the length of the piece, and comments and reactions from passersby. He says the piece is dedicated to children.
“I invite everyone to come and check out my work and bring their kids, especially. Because this is dedicated to the children of the
world, and especially the children of Ketchikan.”
The piece is not titled yet, but Burquez says elementary school children were asked to submit suggestions. A committee will review ideas and the title revealed in late September when the mural is expected to be completed.
The work was commissioned by Alaska Tourism Investments. Jacob Mensurian is a member of ATI. He says he wanted to revitalize the area and felt a mural would not only be more attractive than a brown fence, but also bring more people downtown. He says he has been friends with Burquez for many years, and admires his work.
Burquez’ art can be seen throughout Ketchikan. This includes the five-panel painting “My World” at the baggage claim area of Ketchikan International Airport, and murals at restaurants Oceanview , Wee Ma Din Thai and Chico’s. Burquez says he looks forward to creating more art in the community.
A dedication ceremony is planned for September 25th. That’s when the title of the piece will be revealed. The time of the event is still being determined.