Let’s all share in decision on Del Oro mural
Like many locals, our first reaction on hearing that the mural on the back of the Del Oro Theater will be painted over was an anguished “No!” It was a cry against more change in what seems to be a world of never-ending change.
The mural, easily seen from the Golden Center Freeway, features a large heart and the words:
Flanking the heart are a couple of miners wearing headlamps, along with what seems to be an ore cart and a Pelton wheel.
But as soon as our initial dismay had passed, we realized there were other factors at work here:
• The Del Oro, at 165 Mill St., is also a piece of Grass Valley history, and Barbara and Mike Getz, who recently bought the theater, are performing a true community service by refurbishing it. First they upgraded the inside, then replaced the roof. Now they must deal with repainting the landmark, including the mural, which is stained and cracked and has an obsolete chimney pipe running up the middle.
• The mural itself is far from historic. In fact, it was originally painted in 1976 – 20 years after the last gold mine shut down here. There may have been an earlier mural on the wall, and Howard Levine of the Grass Valley Downtown Association is looking for some longtime residents who may have a photo or postcard showing what it was.
(We’re told that construction of the theater was begun in 1938 but was delayed as World War II loomed. A cornerstone indicates it was completed in 1942.)
The Grass Valley City Council tonight will consider whether to follow the advice of the city’s Planning Commission and form a committee to recommend a course of action that could include public funding for a new mural. The panel may include representatives from the planning commission, the council, and the downtown association, as well as the Getzes. The Del Oro’s owners also seem to be open to input from the Historical Society.
The Union also believes that, because of what the mural means to the people of Grass Valley, any new or retro designs should be presented to the residents. Perhaps a forum could be held to gather comment for consideration in the decision-making process. Or how about a contest?
The Del Oro mural may not be a great work of art, but its replacement is an emotional event for the entire community, as will be the relighting of the Del Oro’s neon tower, anticipated later this year. The Getzes are wise in recognizing this.
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