Puget Sound Park’s First Public Art Installation an Expression of Grief and Love

The mural, titled “365 Days of Grief”, is a response to a tragic event that occurred in 2017.

A new mural has been installed in Puget Sound Park, the first public art piece to be installed in this North Burien neighborhood. The mural, titled “365 Days of Grief”, is a response to a tragic event that occurred in 2017.

On February 4, 2017, Conlan Anderson was walking along the side of 1st Ave S near Puget Sound Park when a person driving a car hit and killed him. His long-time girlfriend, Natsiree Puttavon, and his family reached out the City of Burien that same year and asked for a memorial bench be installed in his honor. She and the family have lived in Burien for decades.

Puttavon raised funds from the local community to pay for the bench, and it was installed in 2023.

She then turned her efforts toward applying for a grant and raising money for a piece of public art to be installed near the place where he died. She found Stephanie Patterson to lead the conceptual design and Tamara Hergert, an award-winning artist based in Leavenworth, WA, to paint the mural.

“I had to create a message that I felt would be universal,” said Puttavon. “I wanted something to represent that even though this was a project that had started after the loss of someone I had loved, I didn’t want it to feel like an individual experience. Because we all have experienced grief and loss in some way or shape or form, especially during the pandemic. This is not an experience limited to just one person, but rather it is a universal feeling. I wanted the piece to demonstrate that we are not alone in our grief and that we never are, despite how we may feel or believe within that moment of loss.”

Puttavon’s family immigrated from Thailand more than 30 years ago. Lanterns are often used to represent the soul in many Eastern cultures. The artwork features images of lanterns on a dark sky background.

“I wanted sky lanterns to be stretched across the sky, from the darkest of skies to the lightest of them,” said Puttavon. “I wanted it to represent that the darkest is in fact before the dawn. Grief, I have found, is very much like that. While grief is not linear, it does get lighter with time. You carry it with you, but it becomes more manageable, more bearable as time goes on. But it shifts, it changes, and it transforms. But most importantly, you are never alone. You are never just a singular sky lantern floating aimlessly across the sky.”

Wide view of colorful mural along a fence.
Full view of mural titled “365 Days of Grief”. Credit: City of Burien

“Public art is important because it beautifies and gives meaning to our community and deepens our sense of place,” said Caroline Bobanick, City of Burien Recreation Supervisor who assisted Puttavon and Hergert with installation of the artwork. “When we pass by this wonderful mural, whether while walking or driving, we are reminded of the beauty of life as well as the preciousness of our friends and loved ones.”

The art was installed on June 5, 2023. A small installation ceremony was held with the family and friends of Puttavon and Conlan present. Puttavon has also written a book of poems titled “365 Days of Grief”.

The installation and maintenance of the artwork is funded through the City of Burien’s Art in Public Places Fund. The Burien City Council approved in 2022 the Arts Commission’s recommendation to include this artwork in Burien’s public art collection.

About the artists

Natsiree Puttavon works at the Wing Luke Art Museum as their assistant manager of events and visitor services and is pursuing a degree in museum studies from the University of Oklahoma.

Tamara Hergert is an artist based out of Leavenworth, WA. She is a founder of the Empowered Artists community where she teaches visual artists how to build and grow a successful art practice.

Stephanie Patterson is an emerging artist based in Seattle who specializes in illustration and digital art.

Emily Inlow-Hood
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