Mural honoring Carl Gipson, Everett’s first black councilman, going up
Doug Ramsay photo, dougramsayphoto.photoshelter.com
EVERETT - Lifelong artist Jesse James Jeter is painting a mural of Carl Gipson on the bottom floor of the Carl Gipson Senior Center celebrating Gipson’s 90th birthday earlier this year.
The piece features a large depiction of Gipson in one of his favorite sweaters surrounded by his life’s milestones.
The 21.5-by-8.5 foot mural is painted onto a sealed concrete wall coming down a wheelchair accessible ramp to the parking garage. As seniors and other visitors climb the ramp to go upstairs, Gipson’s eyes follow them in an optical illusion. Jeter likes to include “unexpected twists” like this one into his work.
One passerby who saw the mural last week called it “beautiful.”
On the left hand side is one of the two service stations Gipson owned in his life, then there are depictions of Naval Station Everett, of him on City Council, the old courthouse where he worked, the state of Washington and a church that he and two others helped expand by refinancing their homes. His wife Jodie is on the top right of the piece. She passed away in 2007.
Gipson is Everett’s first black city council member. He was instrumental in bringing the Naval Station to Everett and in helping the poor and disadvantaged. He became City Council President in 1977 and is a long-serving deacon at Second Baptist Church.
These days, he’s been watching Jeter work on the mural of his image.
Also included in the mural is Gipson’s home state of Arkansas and the logo of the senior center’s table tennis club.
Howard Grossman, the table tennis club’s program leader, requested that their club be represented on Gipson’s shirt, but Jeter “did him one better” and included their logo prominently near the center of the mural. The flowers on the piece are rhododendrons – Washington’s state flower.
Jeter is donating the mural to the senior center. His wife sits and watches him paint, which is unusual for the couple, senior center director Deb Loughrey-Johnson said.
Jeter was born and raised in South Carolina where he started drawing with ballpoint pens on his school papers so that he didn’t have to buy paint, he said.
He has studied welding at Everett Community College, as well as sculpture at Allen University in Columbia, S.C., art at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C. and graphic design at The Portfolio Center in Atlanta, Ga.
His style is influenced by classical renaissance artists, particularly Michelangelo and Peter Paul Rubens, an extravagant Baroque era painter.
When he first saw the space, “it kind of just came right away” Jeter said. He wants to “portray him (Gipson) in a positive light, with a smile on his face.”
“Carl loves it,” Jeter said.
They’ve been bonding and Jeter recently taught Gipson how to take a “selfie” picture on a cell phone.
Jeter regularly paints more to the mural weekdays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Carl Gipson Senior Center at 3025 Lombard Ave.
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