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Cheney seeking donations for downtown murals

Paintings representing past, present and future

Jeslyn Lemke Correspondent

Several big, colorful murals are in the works for downtown Cheney, but organizers are still searching for more funding.

Pathways to Progress, an organization committed to the revitalization of downtown, is asking for donations to complete the funding for three wall-sized murals.

The first mural features a sweeping scene of a family working their wheat fields near Cheney in the 1800s. The painting could be up as soon as February, according to interim executive director Spencer Grainger.

Businesses can opt to have their regular business and occupation tax designated for the mural through a special state program, and can potentially receive back about 75 percent of their donation.

“The mural itself is going to showcase Cheney’s agricultural history,” Grainger said.

The paintings will be the backdrop to Cheney’s Farmers’ Market, which is held annually on the corner of College Avenue and First Street.

“I looked at the first panel today and it’s beautiful. It’s really good,” Grainger said.

Spokane artist Tom Quinn has the first mural set up in the upstairs of his house in Peaceful Valley.

Because the paintings will be outside in the unforgiving Cheney weather, Quinn said he’ll put several sturdy varnishes over them. The paintings themselves are made of acrylics and house paint on large sheets of plywood, set on a frame of two-by-fours. Quinn said he’s aiming for “something bucolic,” or, in other words, rustic.

People feel more attracted to a downtown area that has good art, according to a survey done last fall by Pathways intern Errin Edlin.

“What we found out was that people would have a better impression of Cheney if there were more public art,” Grainger said.

Pathways is solely reliant on public funding for the paintings, making their creation dependent on public support. Contributors who give more than $500 get a name plaque next to the murals.

The murals are supposed to represent Cheney’s past, present and future. The mural soon to be installed symbolizes the past.

The second mural is another wheat field scene of a farmer working a field with a combine – symbolizing Cheney’s current agricultural spin. Cheney is bordered by wheat fields that continue for miles. There are also several local family lines with a long tradition of farming outside Cheney.

The last mural lights up with the fruits of Cheney’s fields: produce such as squash and wheat.

Contact correspondent Jeslyn Lemke by e-mail at jlemke12@yahoo.com.
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