"Delta Country Ark," a mural on the south side of town, set the stage for the artwork which now graces commercial buildings the length of Main Street. W. Richard "Dick" Doherty, who had just retired as the Delta High School art teacher, came up with the idea to showcase the wildlife which can be found in the area.
He painted a male and female of each species, which led him to title the mural "Delta Country Ark."
The mural drew many positive comments from motorists as they approached Delta from the south. But over time, constant exposure to the sun and heat has caused the mural — painted on the south and west sides of the cooling tower at the city's municipal power plant — to fade.
The City of Delta's mural committee has watched the paint colors lose their vibrancy, despite the protective coating which is renewed every couple of years.
"The decision to paint over the mural was deliberated for many months by the mural committee," said committee chairperson Gayla Clay. "There has been much discussion about losing a work of art within the city. Each mural is treasured and appreciated."
The decision was ultimately made to paint over the mural, and the committee turned to Doherty for design ideas. Throughout his teaching years, Doherty pursued his own creative career through public and private commissions, exhibits and sales. He also designed the city's bicentennial time capsule, a commemorative coin, and the murals of the Delta Hardware Store and the Anna Dora Opera House near the intersection of 3rd and Main streets.
For the new mural, Doherty was asked to come up with a new concept which reflects Delta's status as "Gateway to the Canyons."
Western themes have been among Doherty's favorites, so he was able to quickly come up with a concept which features Spanish priests Dominguez and Escalante greeting three Ute Indians on horseback, set against the desert landscape. The human figures and the horses will be life size.
With a newly replaced knee and a bum ankle, Doherty doesn't feel comfortable working on scaffolding so his vision will be carried out by Seth Weber, a Paonia artist who has completed three murals in Delta. Both artists have an eye for detail and a desire to make their artwork as realistic as possible. Doherty's shopkeeper in the Delta Hardware mural and Weber's rendition of Art Briggs on the side of Delta House have both drawn second, and even third, glances.
On Dec. 20, city council awarded a contract in the amount of $16,950 to cover design and execution of the project. Wilma Erven, culture and recreation division, said Weber plans to begin painting as soon the wall has been prepped. It is hoped the mural will be finished by Memorial Day.
Eventually, wording will be added to let travelers know that western Colorado is the only location in the United States with three National Conservation Areas within a 60-mile radius — Gunnison Gorge NCA, Dominguez-Escalante NCA and the McInnis NCA.blog comments powered by Disqus