Artists Paint the Towns
Murals beautify buildings and spotlight history
By Dianna Troyer
While she painted, professional muralist Beverly Caputo had an appreciative daily audience in Wells a few months ago.
“Wherever I paint, people like watching the process, seeing a mural come to life in stages,” Beverly says. “Local residents were so positive and told me the murals were a great addition to the community.”
A Reno resident, Beverly has painted murals for corporations and cities for two decades. Community leaders found her through her website, beverlycaputo.com.
With brush strokes instead of words, Beverly and other northern Nevada muralists tell stories about Wells, Carlin, and West Wendover.
In epic proportions, recently painted murals not only beautify commercial districts, they tell of the towns’ character and history, and promote civic pride.
In June, Beverly painted two murals in Wells, drawing inspiration from information provided by City Manager Jolene Supp about local history, recreation, and the economy.
A 6-foot-tall, 30-foot-long mural welcomes visitors to Wells on 6th Street across from City Hall. It showcases the idyllic solitude of Angel Lake, agriculture, and the popular summer Wells Fun Run Car Show and Cruise.
“The old swimming pool wall was a natural location for it, and the property owner was very gracious to let us use it,” Jolene says.
In an 8-foot-tall, 50-footlong painting on the side of the former Trail of the ’49ers Interpretive Center at the corner of 6th and Lake streets, pioneers on the California Trail look realistic enough to stride out of the wall as they ride their horses and guide wagons westward. The building is being renovated, and the interpretive center organizers hope to move back in eventually.
Beverly worked daily unless sudden rain and dust storms forced her to take a break.
“We’ve received a ton of compliments,” Jolene says. “Groups of people take their pictures at the murals. They’re a great way to show off our community.”
The public artwork came about as part of the Wells Main Street Program, under the direction of the Nevada State Program and the Main Street USA group.
“The program has four specific ‘legs’ of focus to their stool: organization, design, promotion, and economic restructuring,” Jolene says. “Basically, it’s about building enough customers, businesses, capacity, and a system that brings everything together. Various groups involved with that have talked about murals. Main Street was a conduit for funding them.”
Jolene says the murals are also an anchor for other beautification projects, including banners on light poles for color and patriotism, benches and trash cans in the downtown park and on the sidewalks, a reader board, and various signs for downtown businesses.
Carlin’s Gathering Place
In Carlin, the walls of the Gathering Place community center show support for the graduating class of Carlin High School, patriotism, and pride in the town’s first major employer, the railroad.
“The seniors lost so much with the pandemic,” says Ellen Meshefski, a member of the community center. “We brainstormed about how to show our support for them and to wish them well in their future. We decided they should paint their silhouettes on the side of our building.”
They were not the only ones who wanted to make a social statement during tumultuous times. Robert Gift painted a message of encouragement in his mural of Captain America.
“I want to remind us that when the world seems crazy politically, there’s a hero holding a shield representing the people,” Robert says.
A teen, Terrell Cole, painted a flag on the building.
West Wendover’s Artistic Teens
In West Wendover, teens also decorated a building with a mural. In August, 18 students and three adults with the Wendover Youth Prevention Coalition spent three weeks painting their community mural on the side of West Wendover Recreation Center.
West Wendover High School senior Fawn Neaman designed the painting that shows a united community despite being divided by the Nevada/ Utah border.
“I wanted to show that families all came together during the pandemic to help each other even though we have two high schools and two towns,” she says of West Wendover, Nevada and Wendover, Utah.
The mural also celebrated the fifth anniversary of the coalition’s establishment. The program was started to encourage teens to make healthy lifestyle choices and to combat alcohol and drug abuse.
“The mural was the idea of our coalition members,” says Alyssa Lobato, who works with the coalition as a prevention specialist with the Tooele County Health Department. “When we unveiled it, mayors from both communities spoke about how they believe the coalition has helped the community.”
To ensure Wells’ murals will last for decades, Beverly painted a protective sealant on them so sunshine will not dim the bright colors.
“There are a lot of people in Wells who care about their town and envision its bright future,” Beverly says.