Eclipse mural artist Jen Florentine. Jeremy Brown/The Portager

Kent’s new mural captures a moment in time

There’s a new addition to Kent’s Heritage Park, and it’s here for the long haul.

A colorful mural depicting a solar eclipse seen through a canopy of trees was officially unveiled in the park on April 6. It was created by local artist Jen Florentine after the 2024 eclipse planning committee approached her to take on the project that would commemorate the April 8, 2024 eclipse.

The 2024 eclipse planning committee included Main Street Kent in alliance with the Kent Parks and Recreation Department and city leaders.

Grant funding for the project was provided by the Simons Foundation, the Henry V. And Frances W. Christenson Foundation and the Kent Rotary Foundation for their Path of Totality Initiative.

The 2024 eclipse planning committee. Submitted photo

Florentine created the art for the mural with Procreate software using an iPad and an aerial view through treetops.

“My favorite view of trees is when you’re looking up into the canopy,” Florentine said. “There’s something so grounding and peaceful and awe-inspiring for me to look up into the trees. I love that view. I love to paint it. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I thought, what better than to put the actual eclipse in that scene?”

She hopes the mural will bring “a little bit of joy, and maybe act as a reminder to look up every once in a while.”

Marketing and special events coordinator for the city of Kent Parks and Recreation Department Oliver Wuensch speaking at the eclipse mural unveiling ceremony on April 6. Jeremy Brown/The Portager

In the months prior to the eclipse, Main Street Kent and Kent’s Parks and Recreation Department had been in talks about a plan to install a mural somewhere in Kent, but were initially unsure what the theme would be. Eventually, they realized that the mural was the perfect match for eclipse commemoration art.

“Both our department and the planning committee thought this would be a terrific way to pair the two things, to bring in a project that we had talked about, as well as promoting the art of the eclipse and what it could potentially mean to the community, and keeping it as a longstanding memory,” said Oliver Wuensch, marketing and special events coordinator for the city of Kent Parks and Recreation Department.

Jen Florentine’s art. Submitted photo

Kyle Boyher (of madlad_graphics on Instagram) printed the mural on a durable aluminum composite material for the specific purpose of durability and longevity, as well as ease of installation.

“The goal is to let it go up for as long as it can stay up,” Wuensch said. “It’s not a temporary thing. We’re hopeful that the material and the process used to create it will let it stay up for 15, 20 years, if not even longer. Maybe at that point it can be reevaluated and either replaced with a new one, or updated and put back up. It’s up there for the long haul.”

Main Street Kent board member Edward Butch says the eclipse mural fits in well with the city’s love for the arts.

“I think just having this be such a large scene that everyone sees when they walk by, or drive by, it’s just going to remind everyone of this really cool time that we had here in 2024,” Butch said. “It shows that we do have that appreciation for the arts, as well as fun in doing other things around town.”

Jeremy Brown
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