Puyallup A Water Tank Mural Echoes the Forest

A 105-foot-tall water storage tank in Puyallup, WA polluted the view of those who lived nearby until the Goetzinger brothers designed an extraordinary epic water tank mural to cover it. In fact, the area surrounding the formally quite industrial looking urban object is surprising residential. The craftsmanship and creativity evident in the public art installation are astounding. The way it interacts with both the physical and social landscape is uncanny, leaving no doubt as to why it was a finalist in the 2012 Tnemac Co. “Tank of the Year” competition and has become a true landmark.


“The ones who benefit the most are the public…if these tanks are left just plain, they’re kind of an eyesore in a way…that’s where we come in.”

-Peter Goetzinger-

Goetzinger Brothers Water Tank Mural
The neighborhood received a well-deserved gift when the Goetzinger brothers completed this enormous water tank mural.

Fir trees are a symbol of the Pacific Northwest. Their immense size and enchanting beauty make the landscape distinguishable from other parts of America, something of which the local people are particularly proud. Thus, it makes for the perfect choice of imagery to be used in a public art piece in the area. Creating perspective with a more faded layer of trees behind the crisp and realistic renditions, the Goetzinger brothers make the tank itself fade away into the actual landscape. The woodsy water tank mural is at the same time an eye-catching artwork and a sublimation strategy to avert attention from an unwanted visual element.


“Every water tank mural we do is different because we custom design them to their specific locations. Most of our tank murals feature trees and foliage that are native to the region. On a 10-million-gallon water tank in Anchorage, Alaska, we used the Sitka Spruce, while the mural in Puyallup features full-size Douglas Firs. So it just depends on the site.”

-Rolf Goetzinger-

This sketch gives us a bit of insight into the lengthy planning process for these kinds of extraordinary public water  tower paintings.
In this photo one can really see the detail and skill of the mural painting.

The Goetzinger brothers did not only perfectly execute the larger-than-life mural, but also had to investigate the history and desires of the townspeople and communicate their artistic message to city council in the planning process. They both actually studied illustration in university, a vital skill in the complex development of large scale urban art projects. Proposals must justify the use of funds for public works, explaining exactly why one specific design is better than others and suits the town. Another goal in the multi-layered process is to promote good relations between utility companies (in this case water companies) and the general public.

The positive effects of commissioning art in public places cannot be underestimated, especially in the case of water tank repaints. First, the relationship between a city’s utility companies and its residents is improved. Secondly, a landmark is born that can serve as a sign of the city. And lastly, as in this case, a well-received art piece can provide a space for locals to consider the relationship between urban art, urban development, and nature.

Goetzinger Brothers Public Water Tank Mural
The trees surrounding the unique water tank mural are the same as those pictured in the public art installation.

Life-size, enormous depictions of fir trees, a perfect use of color, and interesting perspective tricks all lead to the great success of this water tank mural. But, none of this could be done without the experienced hands of this great artistic team, who may be the best in the business. The Goetzinger brothers are known for their elegant style and memorable themes, their understanding of what makes a certain place special, and how to bring this to life with paint. None of the aforementioned skills come easily, yet all are present in their iconic Puyallup tank project.