‘A gift to everyone’ | Community-made mural brings rainbow to Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery just got a whole lot more colorful. The source of the rainbow? A new mural at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, just across from the salmon viewing windows.

Created with pieces of recycled stained glass in every color imaginable, the mural depicts salmon migrating in a stream, just like the salmon that come through Issaquah Creek and can be observed at the hatchery every autumn.

But unlike other artwork in town, created by individual artists, this piece is a little different — it was brought into being by the community.

Robin Kelley, executive director of Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, explained that Sammamish glass artist Cheryl Smith had acted as project coordinator, providing that stained glass and the fish templates, but that a group of about 100 community members had transformed the shards of glass into a picture over the course of three work parties.

“We were so lucky that she was a local person we could work with and collaborate with. She did the magic,” Kelley said. “Her open heart and open mind to having a lot of people participate really added to the richness of the experience.”

The amateur artists ranged in age from 4 to 86 and included Club Inclusive, a group for adults with developmental disabilities.

Kelley said that during the work parties, there was “all this kindness that you could just feel.”

After taking over as executive director of Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery a year ago, Kelley “realized how many people are at the property every day.”

The hatchery, Kelley explained, was not originally built with any artistic frills — it was made with a very industrial look to fill a purpose. However, unlike other salmon hatcheries around the state, this one is not hidden away in the countryside; it sits in the middle of town as a landmark of Issaquah.

“This hatchery right in the middle of town — it holds a different meaning for people,” she said, noting that “tens of thousands visit per year.”

“They value the hatchery just as they would a landmark,” she said.

And now with a color-filled mural created by 100 community members over 600 hours, the hatchery is even more special.

“This is a gift to everyone,” Kelley said. “It’ll be there forever for people and we’re really prideful of that.”

The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and its new mural are located at 125 W. Sunset Way, Issaquah.

The new mural at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery was created by 100 community members over three work parties. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

Robin Kelley, executive director of FISH, said that the mural is especially beautiful because the way the sunlight reflects off of the fish changes depending on the time of day. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

The mural depicts fish swimming in a stream, just like the salmon that come through Issaquah Creek and can be observed at the hatchery every autumn. Nicole Jennings/staff photo

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