Students create a mural dedicated to Winters history

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A group of Winters Middle School and High school students have dedicated their summer evenings to transforming the blank eastern wall of Lorenzo’s Town and Country into an enormous masterpiece. Under the guidance of Jaime Montiel, an esteemed local muralist and painter, and with the support of Gallery Without Walls, these students are telling the story of Winters’ sprawling history in a mural. They have spent months studying local history, looking through photographs in the county archives and listening to lectures from historians in order to choose the best images to represent Winters.   Before they even began studying Winters history, Montiel had the students think about what Winters means to them. The group worked together to brainstorm several mural designs. As the weeks went on and the students were introduced to more information about historical events in Winters, they began to update their design. Three local history scholars; Gloria Lopez, Tom Crisp and Woody Fridae, all visited the group to deliver a lecture in their area of expertise. Lopez, local author of American Paella, gave a lecture on the experience of Spanish immigrants in the region. Crisp, who wrote The People of Buckeye and Early Winters, shared stories from Winters history along with some of the photos he had collected for his research. Fridae spoke to the students about the many different groups of people who have lived in this region over the centuries. Along with these lectures the students visited the Yolo County Archives, where they looked at historical photographs of Winters to gain some inspiration. Throughout the process the students were continuously revising their ideas to incorporate new knowledge. After nearly a month of brainstorming and revisions, they had a final product that could be seen and approved by John Lorenzo. “That’s actually half of the process,” Montiel says about planning, “the rest is painting.” Once the design was decided on, the students began the monumental task of expanding the image to fit on the side of a building. “We used a grid in order to enlarge it,” Montiel said, “so that way everyone can participate in the process.” After the grid was drawn the students were able to follow the guidelines in order to expand the picture to fit the wall. From that point on the students could focus on painting several small squares at a time, instead of trying to cover the entire length of the building at once. The final design that the students chose includes images from every era of Winters history. In between an image of a Wintun dwelling on the southern side of the building to an overflowing basket of produce on the northern corner, there are giant sunflowers, sprawling orchards, almond blossoms and the Rotary Park gazebo. The Winters water tower stands above them all. Montiel says that two images based on photographs will be added soon. One image is taken from a photograph of Lorenzo’s grandfather with his truck, another is a photograph of the apricot drying racks. While the students and Montiel work in shifts through the evenings, Montiel and Gallery Without Walls have no intention of slowing down. “The idea is that this will be a yearly project,” Montiel says. This mural was dedicated to the history of the land outside of Winters, and in the future Montiel is hoping that the groups will be able to put up murals downtown. He isn’t worried about the students running out of ideas. Montiel says that in three weeks of planning the students were able to come up with three separate mural designs. “So we really just need walls,” he says.  ]]>

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