The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 1997 · Page 93
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 93

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 4, 1997
Page 93
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SUNDAY, MAY 4, 1997 SILO MURALS THE SALINA JOUPNAL BLAZING THE TRAIL Travelers along the Oregon Trail now can learn story told in murals on grain silo By JOE BATHKE The Manhattan Mercury T. MARYS — If Cynthia Martin was looking for a legacy for her I artistic talents, a 2,000-square-foot canvas should do the trick. For more than a year, Martin has been painting scenes from the Oregon Trail on what is arguably the most appropriate place to find Kansas-appropriate art: a 430-foot grain silo. Martin, 38, Onaga, was hired to paint the silo by KPL, which owns the surrounding Oregon Trail Nature Park and nearby Jeffrey Energy Center. The park lies just north of U.S. 24 between Belvue and St. Marys. "It was fascinating to learn about all the history in the area," said Martin, admiring her creation from about 20 feet away. Settlers passed near this site about 150 years ago on their way west. Using durable oil-based enamel paint, Martin has painted 22-by-30-foot scenes from that period. The north panel of the silo depicts an Indian buffalo hunt. Kaw Indians on horseback ready spears and arrows to plunge into the buffaloes they chase across a Kansas valley. Martin said she wanted to be as historically accurate as possible in her paintings. She enlisted the help of author and historian Don Goldsmith, an Emporia- based free-lance writer. "We talked mostly about what Indians she should depict," Goldsmith said. Among the tips he gave her were the types of weapons Indians and settlers would have used and the types of painted markings found on the horses that appear in Martin's mural: a handprint on the rump to indicate ownership, a lightning bolt on the leg to indicate speed. The south mural depicts a settler family following well-worn wheel ruts to the west. The father walks ahead of the covered wagon carrying a rule in one hand and that night's supper, a prairie chicken, in the other hand. His son also walks in front of the wagon. Mother and child sit on the wagon. At the top of the mural is a map showing the Oregon Trail from the Missouri River to the coast. Major points along the trail are marked. Martin's attention to detail is impressive, from the etchings on the man's rifle to the small wildflowers that grow in the grass to the shadows that the oxen cast on the ground. The northwest scene depicts Kansas wildlife. Two deer look apprehensively at a nearby skink. The mother deer stands close by. A blue heron stands in a stream, and a red-tailed hawk flies overhead. She began research for the mural in the spring of 1995. In June of that year, she began to prepare the 100-year-old silo for art, bathing the outside with acid to etch the silo and allow her paint to grab hold. She cleaned and sealed the seams on the moist and moldy inside to keep moisture from seeping into her paint, and scrubbed the metal bands outside to get rid of rust. She started painting in July 1995. She estimates she has put about 2,000 hours into the work — 800 of those painting the enormous grassland that graces the murals. She can't paint during cold weather because her paint won't dry if it's less than 50 degrees outside. On days when the temperature hovers around 50 degrees, she brings a hair dryer to heat up the surface. She connects the hair dryer to a long extension cord that plugs into an outlet on a light pole several feet away. To reach to top of the silo, Martin has used a lift commonly used to fix power CSLBY VISIT COLBY. . .the "OASIS ON THE PLAINS" * Over 400 Motel Rooms * Unique Shopping * Great Eating Kansas' Biggest Barn • Rod Run June 13-15 • Prairie Heritage Day June 21 • Bluegrass Festival July 18-20 • Thomas County Fair July 28-Aug. 2 ATTRACTIONS • Prairie Museum of Art & History • White's Factory Outlet Center • Thomas County Courthouse • Northwest Research-Extension Center RECREATIONAL FACILITIES • 8 City Parks •Swimming Pools • 2-Twiit Theatres • Racquet Ball Club • Golf Courses • Bowling Alley • Miniature Golf Fur Brocluirvti Or MOJTV IitlumuttJkui Ckuititct: COLBY Oooventlou A Vbtitorn Bureau P.O. Box 572 Colby, Kansas 67701 013462-7643 1-800-6U-8835 The Associated Press Cynthia Martin paints Oregon Trail murals on a silo near St. Marys. lines and trim trees. She can drive around the silo by using controls in the basket. The device made her nervous when the wind blew. "It took me a few days to just let go and paint," said Martin, who used a two-way radio to communicate with KPL officials if she had problems. One fringe benefit of her project is the fascinating people she has met. The site's location along the Oregon Trail attracts many who are fascinated with the American West. She talked at length with a New Zealand couple riding the Oregon Trail on horseback. In a letter she received from the couple, they said they rode 1,500 miles of the 2,000-mile trail before hitting bad weather in Idaho. And there are those who stop by because they see a silo from the highway that looks just a little bit different from the others. "I keep coming out here just to see it, just to see how much she's gotten done," said regular visitor Tina Pace, Wamego. re here to help you do just that. Stop by or call to find out more about our trips & tours. All you have to worry about is packing, and don't forget your camera. May8 Crown-Uptown Dinner Theatre #3 "The Music Man" Be sure to join us for another entertaining production at Wichita's professional dinner theatre! May 9-11 Frontier Heritage Tour Capture the frontier spirit as we visit Fort Smith and Van Buren, Arkansas for a scenic 3-day springtime outing. June 12-15 Best of The West Tour Tulsa/OKC/Aiuarillo June 28-29 KC Royals/Starlight Theatre/ Atchinson Call/or upcoming trip information! Salina Parks & Recreation Dept, MSBSm ! S_'d , It

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