Murals add new artistic dimension to fairgrounds

Art at Grant County Fair

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Erika Mueller with her completed (but still unvarnished) mural. The mural is the first one in the project that organizers hope will decorate the entire Grant County Fairgrounds with murals.

MOSES LAKE — Local art groups and artists are combining on a project to bring more art to the Grant County Fairgrounds. The first set of three murals will be completed by the end of this week and will be displayed at selected times in summer 2017 on the art and crafts building.

The goal is to create murals for many of the major buildings at the fairgrounds, said Ciara Shuttleworth, director of Columbia Basin Allied Arts. The project is a joint effort of fairgrounds managers, CBAA and the Moses Lake Museum & Art Center.

Artists Erika Mueller and Laura Mayer each produced a mural during fair week; Shawn Cardwell, artist and museum employee joined the project after another artist dropped out. “I’m so excited,” Cardwell said.

“We had a lot of artistic freedom to do what we wanted,” Mueller said. The only stipulation, Shuttleworth said, was the murals should be related to Grant County one way or another.

Mueller has been coming to the fair since childhood, she said, and her mural depicts aspects she remembers and loved - the carnival rides, the blue ribbons. She added an abstract border, taking inspiration from quilt squares. It's eight feet high, 24 feet long.

She laid out the border design and got community help with the painting, she said, including a paw-print from both Grant County Sheriff’s Office K9 units.

Mayer depicted a Grant County landscape, complete with flowers. Shawn joined the project late, so she was still working on her design. She decided on a landscape, Grant County’s fields and hills. “What I see when I look at my backyard,” she said.

Her painting will be 8 feet square. Meyer’s is 8 feet high by 12 feet wide

A “varnishing party” is scheduled this week for the completed murals, Shuttleworth said, to protect them from weathering. They will be stored until next spring, and will be displayed periodically at spring and summer events.

After fairground administrators approved the idea, Shuttleworth said she met with fairgrounds event coordinator Spencer Biallas and museum manager Freya Liggett. “The three of us just sat down and started brainstorming,” Shuttleworth said.

The project had some bumpy spots as they got it going, Shuttleworth said, but they got a good response when they pitched it to possible sponsors. “We had an enormous amount of support very quickly.”

The group hopes to add murals to other buildings at the fairgrounds over the next five years, Shuttleworth said. They will be looking for donations for the second set of murals over the winter. “Next year, we’ll start sooner.”

They hope to keep working with the same artists, Shuttleworth said, but will take proposals from other artists as well.

The group has a goal for a second project, permanent murals on the end of buildings visible from the street. Shuttleworth said that's still a work in progress.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at

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