Museum of Northwest Colorado looking forward to displaying world’s largest fine art watercolor

Local artist Israel Holloway will paint the piece. Funding for the project was provided by Moffat County Local Marketing District in July

Editor’s note: In the Sept. 18 print edition of the Craig Press, the size of the world’s largest watercolor in Massachusetts was listed as 15 feet by 18 feet. This story has been updated to fix the print error.

Looking to help set a new narrative regarding Craig and its transition away from coal, the Museum of Northwest Colorado came up with a creative way to create a new conversation.

Through funding from the Moffat County Local Marketing District, the Museum of Northwest Colorado will partner with local artist Israel Holloway to paint the world’s largest fine art watercolor, replacing the previous mural that hung inside the museum for decades.

“With the change currently facing Craig and Moffat County, we wanted to create something that had a real impact for our community,” Paul Knowles, the museum’s Asst. Director, said. “Our hope is that this project will open people’s eyes to our amazing community as we move towards our new reality.”

According to the museum, the final art piece will be 16 feet by 10 feet and will hang inside the museum as the main focal point inside. The world’s largest known water color to date resides in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, measuring in at 15 feet by 8 feet.

Once the Museum of Northwest Colorado’s piece is complete, the mural will be 40 square feet, or roughly 33% bigger than the current mural that holds the world record.

The idea for the watercolor was formulated by the museum as they contemplated ways to bring renewed attention to Craig and Moffat County.

“With the current trend away from coal, this town has had to quickly come to terms with the fact that our current economic drivers are already halfway out the door,” Knowles said. “However, we are located in the middle of one of the largest spans of stunning public recreation land in the nation and are 40 minutes from the world-renowned resort of Steamboat Springs. We remain a very desirable place to live.”

The project is set to begin in late September. During the painting process, the public is invited to participate in the project by viewing the work in-person at the museum and following along on the museum’s Facebook page, Knowles said.

Additionally, the museum is in the process of exploring a live internet feed to provide real-time access to the project around the world.

The new piece of art will replace the museum’s mural that previously hung in place inside the museum for 30 years.

“Our current mural of Downtown Craig in the 1890s is also a stunning piece of art,” Knowles said. “However, after 30 years of hanging in the same place, in combination with the re-invigoration taking root in Downtown Craig, we felt it was a good time to update.”

According to Knowles, the museum has a few organizations that are interested in displaying the current mural moving forward. The final decision as to the old mural’s new home will be made as soon as the new mural is complete, according to the museum.

“It’s an honor to be included in the museum and certainly a challenge to create a piece at this scale,” Holloway said. “I want to try to create something that represents our local heritage, connects to the museum’s Western collection and shows the power and beauty of the real, living West that still exists today.

Holloway is a resident of Craig, having grown up in the Yampa Valley. He began painting full-time in 2010. Previously, Holloway taught painting, drawing, and 2-D design courses at Colorado Northwestern Community College. During his career, Holloway has won number awards and was featured in the Coors Western Art Exhibit and was also selected for the prestigious ‘The Russell’ Exhibit and Sale to benefit the C.M. Russell Museum on Sept. 12.

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