North Fork artist Lindsey Weaver has her work cut out for her over the next 60 days. Armed with 25 gallons of paint, a variety of brushes, sunscreen and her trusty iPod, she will paint three murals on more than 2,000 square-feet of retaining walls in downtown Oakhurst.
The murals were commissioned by the Eastern Madera County Chamber of Commerce Foundation as part of a beautification project. They are being funded through a generous donation from a number of Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians Tiny Acorn grants.
The foundation (a non-profit 501(c)(3) which operates independently from the chamber, was created to administer civic improvement grants on behalf of multiple organizations.
Weaver started last week on an 8x120-foot wall at Rite Aid Pharmacy on the south-east corner of Highway 41 and Crane Valley Road (426). The wall, facing Road 426, will feature a bit of history from the area including the once-famous Wawona Tunnel Tree, Oakhurst's former lumber mill and the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.
Mitch Reeves, general manager at Rite Aid, said he is happy his store is part of the project.
"So far, what I've seen looks great," Reeves said.
After the Rite Aid wall is completed, Weaver will paint two more murals on Civic Circle Loop adjacent to the community college and library. One will depict outdoor activities to do in the area such as rock climbing, hiking and fishing and the other wall will have hidden objects for children to find, including a pair of binoculars, fishing pole and hiking boots.
In addition to the three murals, the beautification project includes a directional sign at Civic Circle Loop and Highway 41 for the community college, Oakhurst River Parkway,Oakhurst Branch Library and Oakhurst Community Park. Funds will also be used for additional improvements to the river parkway and Civic Circle Loop.
Old signs found on two of the retaining walls for Sierra Telephone, Midway Market and Norm Elam's barber shop will be preserved.
Two years ago, Weaver painted the 38x14-foot Yosemite Valley scene on the north exterior wall of Yosemite Brokage, Inc. on the south-east corner of Highway 41 and 49 as well as the 17x8-foot painting of wild poppies on an exterior wall of Oakhurst Frameworks in the Oakhurst Shopping Center on Crane Valley Road (426).
The foundation has also been working to improve the looks of the vacant lot adjacent to the Chevron station, owned by the Pashayan family of Fresno. Mike DeVito, one of the owners of Pacific Pectin, has volunteered his work crew a number of times to clean up the lot once occupied by Midway Market and the original Chevron gas station, Sierra Telephone office and Prugo's fine dining restaurant. The foundation paid for the chain fence across the front of the lot and also paid for improvements for the vacant lot on the south-west corner of Highways 41 and 49 adjacent to Taco Bell.
Patrice Jensen, foundation president, said the civic circle loop project will help clean up and add some color to that part of town.
"The foundation wants to actively make improvements to the community," Jensen said.