Artist Tenley Brady designed a mural, seen here Dec. 9, 2023, to spruce up a wall at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

Artist Tenley Brady designed a mural, seen here Dec. 9, 2023, to spruce up a wall at Osan Air Base, South Korea. (Christopher Green/Stars and Stripes)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Sometimes inspiration comes when you least expect it. For Air Force spouse Tenley Brady, it came during a walk in a park.

Brady, from Colorado Springs, Colo., was out with a friend after church for a walk at Osan Air Base, home of the U.S. 7th Air Force, in April when they passed a park near the base commissary.

The park — a field of grass, a handful of trees, and two benches — is surrounded by a tall, white concrete wall topped by metal fencing.

The thought of bringing a splash of color to the park grew into an 8-month-long volunteer effort to brighten those surroundings. During an interview Dec. 8, Brady, her husband, Lt. Trey Brady, and former Osan community planner Erin Gray explained how the drab park wall became a canvas for a display of Korean culture.

The design shows Ginko trees, cherry blossoms, children playing, and a Buddhist temple atop a hill. It displays the highlights of South Korean culture, 

Artist Tenley Brady works on her mural at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2023.

Artist Tenley Brady works on her mural at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Dec. 9, 2023. (Christopher Green/Stars and Stripes)

Tenley Brady’s first step was contacting Gray for approval to paint a mural in the park with the help of some volunteers. 

“We were on board a few of us since he had been working on building this park out,” Gray said. “It fits perfectly into the plan already because we had money that we could fund some of the paint and it’s a huge impact.”

The approval process was very short, and former 51st Fighter Wing commander Col. Joshua Wood was immediately on board, Gray said. Once the mural was approved. Brady and her volunteers had the paint, brushes, and a ladder they needed to get started.

Once Tenley finished creating the design for the mural, she and Trey worked tirelessly to prepare their canvas. The mural depicts children at play, the leaves of gingko trees, cherry blossoms and the 51st Fighter Wing crest with “katchi kapshida” in Korean, which means, “we go together.”.

“We had to power wash the wall first and then put the primer on,” Tenley said. “As soon as we got the primer it was just me and Trey, and Trey and I worked on it, like, day and night for all of August.”

After applying the primer coat, Tenley Brady used an iPad app to project the design on the wall.

“I put the iPad like back on a stand and then I have my phone in my hand and the iPad is projecting onto the wall the picture and I can see it on my phone,” she said.

A month into the project, she circulated a digital flyer among friends in hopes of finding airmen volunteers. She also recruited several students from an art class she taught over the summer.

“I think it’s good, but I was very selective about which kids were working on the project also because we had ladders and I didn’t want very many kids on ladders,” Brady said.

In the end, 20 volunteers had signed up.

Brady used a spreadsheet to organize the volunteers, the section of wall they were working on and the time they spent on each section.

By mid-November, they were finally finished, and what had been a drab, white, concrete wall is now a vibrant scene of Korean culture.

“When I see the mural, my big hope is that people take it in and they’re like Korea,” Brady said. “It’s not just a deployment or I’m living here for one year. But, like, this is a beautiful place that has a cool culture that I can go I can go out and experience.”

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Christopher Green is a reporter and photographer at Osan Air Base, South Korea, who enlisted in the U.S. Army after joining the South Carolina Army National Guard in 2012. He is a Defense Information School alumnus and a former radio personality for AFN Bavaria.

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