by TAMMY MARSHALL & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & B & lt;/span & efore Tim Piper was a garden designer and a painter, he was a firefighter. Before that, he was in the military. And before that, he gave up a scholarship to the Pasadena Art Institute because his father didn't think a career in art would take him anywhere.

He was semi-content as a firefighter until circumstances led him to become the single parent of his daughter. "There's no 24-hour daycare," he says. "You can't be a fireman and have a little girl."

Piper started knocking on people's doors and mowing their lawns. That grew into a landscaping and garden design business that now brings in $2 million to $4 million per year.

The owners of the fence that sits on the 500 block of West 14th Ave. flew Piper to Spokane because they wanted a yard that was artistic and distinctive.

The award-winning gardener began painting a mural on the south side of the front fence after he created one on the fence in their backyard. Piper sees the artwork as a way to knock down barriers and show kids a way that tagging can be utilized for good. "It gives kids out there an outlet for creativity. Instead of a fence, it's now a thing. It makes a statement."

Piper says that he wants to use his talent to help kids from different backgrounds learn how to unleash the creativity within that leads them to tag illegally. "There are kids that learn differently," says Piper. "They're sharp, but they get bored and then they spray paint on walls."

The artist wants to show them how to work in a garden in order to demonstrate a work ethic, how to provide a service and how to gain ownership without spray painting where it is illegal.

A rendition of Michelangelo's "The Creation of Man" was designed by Piper to celebrate art. Other parts of the mural include an interpretation of the photo on the cover of the Beatles album "Abbey Road," hieroglyphs, a dark empress protecting a Buddha and so much more.

A couple of days ago, Piper says he dreamed that his soul was being weighed to find out if he was doing the mural for the right reasons or if it was for his ego. This part of the mural emerged from that dream.

A section of the mural depicts the garden that lies just past the fence, at the front yard of the house.

American Inheritance: Unpacking World War II @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 23
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