Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Crescent City's latest go up at fairgrounds and Wild Rivers Mkt.

Two new contributions were made to Crescent City's already abundant collection of murals over the last few days with a scene of the Smith River installed at Wild Rivers Market on Monday and another phase of the 60-foot depiction of 19th century Del Norte completed at the fairgrounds Saturday.

"Crescent City is working on its healthy portfolio of murals," said Rick Littlefield, owner of Wild Rivers Market, while watching the installation facing Highway 101 on Monday. He said that Thanksgiving week was a perfect time for it. "It's our way of giving back to the community and raising the quality of life for everyone that lives here."

Wild Rivers Market commissioned Diane "Fox" Feller and Kathleen Kresa of Osprey Studios to design and paint a river scene apt for the market's new name.

"Our concern was matching the colors of the Smith, because it's such an unusual mix of green and turquoise colors," said Kresa.

The mural includes a family of rafters paddling the Smith and even a kayaker in the likeness of market general manager Tom Boylan.

This is the first mural that Kresa and Feller have officially made under Osprey Studios, but the pair have also worked together on other murals in town including one at Front Street Inn and the Caltrans mural.

The pair have been working full-time to finish the 24-foot wide and 12-foot-tall mural since they started in September. It is painted on aluminum sheets made by "e-panel" designed to be weatherproof.

Fairgrounds 'showpiece'

When Harley Munger of Piece by Piece Pottery finishes his latest creation at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds - a 60-foot wide portrayal of Del Norte as it was in the 1800s - he said it will be one of the largest puzzle mosaic murals in California.

"It will be a nice showpiece for the fairgrounds and the community," said fairgrounds manager Randy Hatfield.

The six-phase project was started several years ago, but then "the bottom fell out of the economy and it made things more difficult for the project to be completed," Hatfield said.

Funding from local organizations has allowed the project to progress. The fourth phase installed Saturday demonstrates Del Norte's logging past and was funded by Del Norte Sunrise Rotary Club, the Humboldt Area Foundation, and the Del Norte Juvenile Justice Commission.

Babe the Blue Ox is even included in the logging scene, which with the rest of the mural was designed by local artist Rika Blue.

The third phase, representing agriculture, was also recently installed with funding from Coast Central Credit Union and Elk Valley Artisans.

The fairgrounds paid for phase one and Smith River Rancheria sponsored phase two, which depicts the region's Native American culture complete with a redwood plank house.

On an unseasonably warm November Saturday morning, Munger, wearing a hat that said "(heart) my pot shop," had to work fast to beat the quickly-drying concrete that is used to hang each puzzle-piece of the mosaic mural, but he had help.

Lori Markel has been taking lessons from the mural master for the last year.

"She's getting pretty good at it, but don't tell her that or she'll take my place!" said Munger, whose ceramic murals can be seen all over town, including at Enders Municipal Swimming Pool, Crescent City Harbor and Rural Human Services.

Also helping hang the mural was Rob Hudson, whose daughter is one of the many youths that Munger works with on the mural projects with, teaching them along the way.

Youths who helped on the fairgrounds mural project include students from Coastal Connections, Castle Rock, high-risk youth and kids serving community service hours.

The Redwoods Mural Society offers a free self-guided tour of the more than 30 murals and mosaics on display in Del Norte County. The brochure can be picked up at the Crescent City Visitors Center.

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