Mural comes home to Manette Saloon

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If you’ve been in the Manette Saloon on East 11th lately, you know that one of its walls has recently been adorned with a fantastical mural, complete with soaring bald eagle, moss-covered tree and a Rainier-esque mountain. 

But those who’ve lived in the area awhile know the artifact is not new to the bar.

Rebecca Dove Taylor, the saloon’s owner, said the mural has come home, having been gone for more than a decade. Painted inside the bar sometime in the early ’90s, a former business partner took it with him when he left saloon management.

How it was painted — and who created it — is a great story in and of itself. His name is Jason Najarak, an artist and art conservator who once came to Bremerton to visit his brother.

Najarak, who has become renown for his “primal realism” style, is based in Minnesota. I tracked him down for a phone call a few weeks back.

A frequenter of the bar while here, Najarak, who tells stories of meeting Picasso on his web site, asked to paint the ambitious mural and created it right in the bar itself.

He used oil and egg tempura paint, a tradition that dates back to the middle ages, and took a few months to put it all together.

“Sometimes I’d go in there before they opened,” to work, he told me. “Sometimes, I would paint right there while they were partying behind me.”

He didn’t have a plan at first. In fact, that’s part of his signature style — he likes to work the canvas with some basic ideas, then go from there once he sees what he’s got. Often, he’ll paint over things he’s worked on for hours, even days, if he’s not feeling it.

“I like to paint my way out,” he said.

The best way to see this method is to watch him construct a similar mural over several weeks, thanks to the beauty of time-lapse photography.

Najarak said he’d love to return to Bremerton sometime, and get another look at the mural he created more than twenty years ago.

The old management partner that took the mural recently brought it back, Manette owner Dove Taylor told me.

She said the mural is now there to stay.

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