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Latest mural going up

Sally J. Taylor

The transformation of a cinder-block wall into a historic mural has begun.

The painting of the Sierra House Waystation and Saloon by mural artist Mike Svob is the only new mural planned this year as part of the Heritage Murals of Lake Tahoe program. It adorns a wall in the Sierra Tract that faces west on U.S. Highway 50 between Chateau Suites and Duck’s on the Lake Car Wash.

Svob, from Vancouver, British Columbia, also helped paint the mural of Globin’s Hotel on the Tahoe Daily Tribune wall that faces San Francisco Avenue.

The Sierra House station “was a very busy spot from the 1860s to the early 1900s,” said city Arts Development Coordinator Phylise Walker. “We’re depicting the 1870s.”

Located near Sierra House Elementary School, the waystation was a major stop for freight lines from the Bay Area and miners heading east to gold and silver strikes in Nevada. Travelers could stop for food and drink. Most pitched tents in the meadow near grazing for their oxen and livestock, although a few rooms were available inside.

A historic photo of the period shows a large crowd of visitors to the waystation lined up on the porch for the photo.

The mural is the eighth to be commissioned for the Heritage Mural program, which is cosponsored by the city Arts Commission, the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and the South Lake Tahoe Historical Society.

Mural topics, selected to portray South Shore historical or natural history themes, are examined for historical accuracy and artistic quality.

As much as possible, topics are matched to walls near the original historic locations.

“We’ve looked at a variety of subject matters and (Sierra House) kept popping up (as a way to depict waystations and stagecoach stations),” Walker said.

“We picked Sierra House Waystation and Saloon (for the wall) because it’s by Sierra Boulevard and probably as close to Sierra House as we’re going to get.”

The mural is expected to be complete for a dedication tentatively planned Oct. 13.

Svob, a past president of the Federation of Canadian Artists and art instructor at Shadbolt Center for the Arts in Vancouver, is most known as a watercolorist.

He is one of the original muralists in Chemainus, B.C., which inspired the Heritage Murals of Lake Tahoe program. That program resulted in a $25 million tourist economy where there was none before.

Chamber representatives felt historical murals would provide tourists with another thing to do at Lake Tahoe, especially in the shoulder seasons. A mural brochure and map was released earlier this year to guide visitors and residents to the murals.

Because the murals also promoted public art and Tahoe history, it was a natural project for participation by the arts commission and historical society.

In the next few years the mural program hopes to have at least a dozen murals in areas compatible with pedestrian traffic.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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