Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order on March 23, 2020, bringing Seattle to a sudden halt. In the earliest days of the lockdown, Jean Sherrard went outside with his Nikon camera and a fair amount of trepidation, having assigned himself the task of documenting the changes being wrought by COVID-19. "All but 'essential' businesses and services had been closed," Sherrard, a Seattle teacher, actor, and photographer (and HistoryLink board member), explained in The Seattle Times on July 20, 2020, "and my near-deserted hometown carried more than a whiff of post-apocalyptic sulfur" ("Chronicling the Bright Art ...").
Inslee's order prompted many businesses to shutter their plate-glass windows and doors with protective plywood panels. Seattle's arts community came to see these panels as blank canvases for artisitic expression. "All across Seattle, great minds were thinking alike. Kathleen Warren, artist and director of Overall Creative, working alongside the Alliance for Pioneer Square, the Ballard Alliance, the Broadway Business Improvement Area, and the Downtown Seattle Association, put out a call for artists to submit proposals for mural art. The response was huge" ("Chronicling the Bright Art ..."). "Thousands of boards are still bare," The Los Angeles Times reported on June 19, "but everyone from graffiti taggers to would-be Picassos are claiming locations fast" ("Seattle is Boarded Up ...").
Ultimately, hundreds of murals were painted all over the city. Sherrard visited Pioneer Square, Downtown, the Pike Place Market, Ballard, and Capitol Hill to take the accompanying 23 photographs. Several more of Sherrard's photos appeared in The Seattle Times, and still more can be viewed at the history blog he produces with historian Paul Dorpat, pauldorpat.com.