Craig's culture on display

Artist blends local residents, activities and places in new mural

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Nina Shroyer worked for two months to encapsulate the essence of Craig in a mural outside of Loadout Liquors. She put the final touches on her masterpiece last week.

Owner Larry Seip said when he first looked into a mural a couple of years ago, it didn't work out. The idea eventually slipped his mind. But Shroyer, who said she has the memory of an elephant when it comes to business, didn't forget. She called Seip and asked if he might still be interested in a mural. Seip thought it was a fine idea, he said.

Seip said he didn't have space for images of everything Craig has to offer, but he wanted to get as much as he could on the wall facing Victory Way. He made a list of various Craig related topics and gave it to Shroyer.

She pulled out dozens of photos from her enormous collection at home and brought them in. Together they pulled out the images that Shroyer would eventually use to paste in one long collage. From the collage, Shroyer sketched her work and then began her favorite part of the process: painting.

"I want to say how tremendous (Shroyer) is. She's an artist; she definitely is. She was so enthusiastic," Seip said.

The most challenging thing for Shroyer was when, already well into the project, she looked at what she had already done.

"It's overwhelming to think about how much work, how many brushstrokes it took," she said explaining that it made her think of how much work was still to be done.

Shroyer painted a sampling of important local industries such as coal mining, gas development and ranching as well as recreational activities popular in the area.

Local residents past and present are scattered throughout, lending a genuine hometown feel to the piece. Larry Henderson fishes a local river. Chuck Cobb will forever complete a golf swing while Mike Brinks sits in front of a raft

on a whitewater river trip. And Seip can also be found with his wife, Sandi, and his deceased daughter, Kelly, in the piece. Kathy Kolbaba, who will have worked for Seip for 24 years in August, and Dave Adams, who owned the business with Seip until his death last year, are below the Seips.

Popular Colorado athletes also perform their sports on the left side of the mural in recognition of state pride.

One concern for Seip is that people might damage the artwork, although he pointed out that other murals around town have been untouched.

Shroyer lived in Chicago for two years and would ride the train through the worst parts of town, she said. She saw many beautiful murals surrounded with graffiti, but the paintings were unscathed, she said.

"I think it may make them feel better about where they live," she said, adding that the artwork might serve as a beacon of hope that graffiti artists themselves might one day create works of art for a living.

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