Mural from The Shed in Winter Park inspires artwork at rec center pool
Fraser, CO Colorado
FRASER – The Winter Park community was crushed several years ago when developers purchased The Shed and promptly painted over the beloved mural that had made the former restaurant and public works facility a town landmark.
Now, a similar mural is going up on the south wall of the natatorium (pool area) inside Grand Park Community Recreation Center.
In her 20 years living in the Fraser Valley, artist Katrina Larson has left her mark on many buildings, from the Fraser Elementary School library and Kremmling Library to Blue Sky Shoes, Sharky’s and Hernando’s.
But, painting the 30-foot south wall has been one of her more hair-raising painting experiences, requiring days of work perched high above the deep end of the pool in the bucket of a hydraulic lift, dodging industrial ductwork, dealing with the noise and working with rough cinderblock as her canvas.
These challenges are exactly why Larson enjoys painting murals:
“Part of what I love about doing murals is the challenge of trying to make what I see on paper come to life on the wall. Dealing with the ductwork, the heat, the pipes, the cinderblocks and the people and noise is all part of the challenge of doing a mural. Just the logistics is kind of fun,” she said. “Sitting down at a table and doing a painting has fulfillment, but I really like the physical work of mural.”
Since the original mural was on a Mexican restaurant, the artistic style was based on the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, Larson said.
Each image in the mural is significant to the history of the Winter Park and Fraser area.
High up on the left side of the wall, Lady Wind signifies change – both in times and weather, Larson said. Wind is as key an element in the Fraser Valley as it is in the mural – blowing the scene through four seasons, from left to right.
Below Lady Wind is the trestle, located in the St. Louis Creek area where the focus was logging, Larson said.
The Sun, at the top of the mural, was a direct inspiration from Diego Rivera.
“We are lucky enough to have over 300 days of sunshine,” Larson said.
Along the bottom of the mural appears a field of columbine, the Colorado state flower.
Byers Peak, a prominent geographic fixture in the valley, becomes a backdrop to ski jumper Billy Olson and Doc Susie, the valley’s doctor in the early 1900s.
Below them is a ski patroller using the 1950s-era Bradley Packer to groom snow.
“The first groomer took five years to perfect but it gave Winter Park a 10-year head start in the business of managing snow,” Larson said.
The Ski Train runs through the middle of the mural with all its cars accurately named in their proper order.
“It is greatly missed chugging through the valley during the snowy weekends,” Larson said.
In the lower middle of the mural are Ute Chief Ouray and his wife.
Standing in the lower right-hand side of the mural is Colorado ski pioneer Horace Button, a lifelong resident of Hot Sulphur Springs. Horace was a rancher, artist and skier whose life spanned the 20th century. As a young man, he competed in jumping, cross-country and alpine skiing, but left his mark on the sport in other ways.
Built in 1911, the ski jump in Hot Sulphur Springs was the first one west of the Mississippi River.
“Button kept the jump open through the Great Depression. He would pack the hill by foot during the day, so when school was let out the local kids could go straight from the classroom to the jump,” Larson said.
“God guides my brush,” Larson said, adding that the rec center staff was instrumental in making this project a reality.
Larson – who also commissions mosaic tile murals, pet portraits, nursery murals and fine art – teaches art at East Grand Middle School.
She anticipates finishing her work on the south wall before school starts and hopes to paint murals on the remaining three interior walls of the natatorium in years to come.
Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610
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