The vandalized 18-foot mural of pinup star Bettie Page on a Roosevelt-area house alongside the freeway has been restored. A 12-foot painting of drag queen Divine has joined it. Motorists have reacted by honking their horns and giving the thumbs up.
After some rain delays, work was finished Tuesday on Seattle’s newest addition to the art world.
Artist Matthew Brennan IV, aka Two Thangs, says reaction has been nothing but positive to the restored 18-foot Bettie Page mural, now joined by a 12-foot Divine on the side of a Roosevelt-area home facing Interstate 5.
“Many people sitting in traffic have been honking their horns and giving me the thumbs up,” he says. “People have been stopping by every day to say ‘Hi’ and tell me how much they love the addition.”
He says it was a technically tough project to complete as he worked on a tall ladder.
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“The ground there is uneven and over a bunch of blackberry bushes,” he says.
Plus there was making sure that the Divine portrait fit with the original Bettie Page and the reality of having to making it all come together on the siding of the house.
“I couldn’t be happier how it turned out,” says Brennan.
In late June, vandals hit the Bettie Page mural on the west side of a home at Seventh Avenue Northeast and Northeast 59th Street, just across from the freeway fence.
She had been a Seattle landmark since 2005, when she was painted on the home owned by Jessica Baxter and Chris Brugos.
“I always liked her story,” Brugos says about Bettie, the 1950s pinup star who died in 2008. “I like the era.”
If you were stuck in gridlock, Bettie couldn’t help but make you smile.
The vandals splashed dark-gray paint on Bettie, and for good measure also painted the message:
“Stop exploiting women’s bodies,” signing it, “some feminists.”
Now things have been made right. The couple commissioned Brennan to restore Bettie and then add Divine, the drag queen who died in 1988.
Baxter says she likes the juxtaposition: “There is no wrong way to be feminine, no wrong way to be a woman, despite the status quo.”
Brennan says that, for him, this is the message of the redone mural:
“Love yourself, love the arts and do what you do.”