Over the last few weeks, local artist Sarah Hughes has been working alongside students at Two Rivers High School to design her newest mural.
The piece will provide a spark of life to a currently blank wall along Main Avenue in downtown North Bend that is the future home of Pressed on Main, a new business set to occupy the space in the coming months.
As Hughes watches the students work, displaying drafts of the three designs they’ve developed together on her iPad, it’s a full-circle moment for the artist who finds herself back at Two Rivers nearly 16 years after graduation.
“I feel like everyone who ends up at Two Rivers has a unique life story,” she told the students. “It doesn’t always make sense, but one day it will.”
Hughes’ unique story began when her family settled in North Bend. After moving constantly for her dad’s work as a contract software engineer, the family moved to the Valley and opened Klassic Tans, a tanning business that at one point was inside the same building that Pressed on Main now occupies.
While Hughes was briefly enrolled at Mount Si High School, she was forced to leave school during her junior year to support the family business after her mom got hurt.
When she returned to school, it was at Two Rivers, which had a more flexible schedule that allowed her to graduate on time in 2006.
Although she has always painted, it wasn’t until she lost her job at a recovery residence during the pandemic in 2020, that she made a leap to become a full-time artist.
Her first gig came two years ago, when her boyfriend signed her up to paint and redesign the community space at their apartment complex. Although her initial response was, “I’ve never painted a mural before,” it became the stepping stone to her new career.
Today, Hughes runs A Pinch Different, a painting and mural company she started that has done a range of work, including at Opstad Elementary and South Fork Event Center.
Since opening that business, being back at Two Rivers, working with its students and getting to paint the side of her parents’ old building have been a longtime goal for Hughes. She hopes her work will rub off on the students.
“I want to show these kids that you don’t have to have a 9-to-5 desk job,” she said. “I want to show them that they can support themselves through the arts.”
Painting of the Mural is expected to begin in late October, with students receiving a stipend for their work. The project is a collaboration between Two Rivers, Pressed on Main and North Bend Art and Industry. The project is looking to raise $11,275.
Those looking to donate can do so online at northbendartandindustry.org/donate and add “Two Rivers Mural Program” to the comment section. Checks made out to North Bend Art and Industry can also be sent to 8611 378th Ave. Southeast, Snoqualmie, WA 98065. Those who donate will get their name or business logo on the wall.