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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

September 7, 2012 at 8:20 PM

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All dressed up for the wrecking ball


Sketched Aug. 29, 2012

Since the Tubs Sun Salon closed five years ago, its empty shell has become an eye-stopping display of graffiti in the middle of Seattle's U District. The collective artwork, however, didn't happen spontaneously.

Taggers can thank Eric Sun, who bought the property in 2007, and his artist friends D.K. Pan and NKO for giving these walls a unique creative purpose all these years while they awaited the wrecking ball.

About 30 graffiti artists first collaborated on the "Tubs Memorial Wall," which later became what Sun called a giant canvas for anyone to spray paint. Sun recalled writing the city to inform them: "We are turning this building into an art project, please don't fine us."

Sadly for taggers, Sun is finally getting around to his original plans for the site. He said Tubs will be demolished by the end of the year to make room for apartments.


I couldn't have timed my visit any better. As I was sketching the building, three graffiti artists showed up and I was able to quickly add them to the main sketch, as you can see on the detail above. Then I went to talk to them and did two more drawings.


"Man, that's tight," said Scotty, when I showed him my sketch of him.


Scotty's cousin, who goes by the artist name Solo, tagged the building with the words of his Nevada hometown, "Reno."

He was disappointed when I told him that Tubs is going to be demolished. "Where else are we going to go now?" he asked. "We don't want to get in trouble."

Tubs memories
D.K.Pan is working on a documentary about Tubs. For more information visit

What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

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I believe that this building was once one of the Safeway grocery stores in the... MORE
Street art can be nice, but if anything good was on this structure, it quickly got... MORE
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