A renowned Camas artist will soon begin the work of creating the city’s first outdoor mural in recent history.
Maria Repetto will paint the 3 foot by 30 foot mural, which will be mounted on the facia above the Ballard & Call Fine Art Gallery, located at 408 N.E. Fourth Ave.
The artwork will be inspired by a photograph of downtown Camas taken in the early 1900s that belongs to Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brent Erickson, a longtime Camas resident.
“When we saw it, we were so excited,” said Marquita Call, who owns the gallery with Sharon Ballard.
The picture features the Camas paper mill, among other historic sites, and offers a view from a unique perspective.
“I’ve never seen a picture like that in all of my years,” said Erickson, adding that the image was likely taken from Sixth Avenue and Division Street in 1911 or 1912.
Using exterior grade acrylic paint in sepia tones and hints of bright colors, Repetto will paint the mural in sections on thin, metal weather impervious material. The pieces, sealed with a protectant, will then be transported from her Camas studio to be mounted on the building.
Repetto, born in Italy, moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1997, and has had a long and distinguished career in the arts. She is new to Camas, but has fallen in love with the area and its history. She looks forward to creating the first piece that is part of the endeavor being billed as the “Camas-Washougal Mural Project.”
“I am excited to be a part of it. I think Camas is a beautiful place,” she said. “I think the mill here is like a monument. It makes the city unique.”
The idea for the Camas-Washougal Mural Project started with the gallery’s owners Sharon Ballard and Marquita Call, both born and raised in Camas. They created a mural committee and forged a partnership with the non-profit organization the Clark County Mural Society.
Getting this first mural off the ground involved a cooperative effort between the committee and the City of Camas, Clark County Arts Commission, Downtown Camas Association and the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce, as well as building owner Gary Ostenson.
Ballard and Call said they hope this will be the first of many murals illustrating the area’s past, present and future. Other projects could be done similarly, or painted directly on walls, depending on the situation.
“They will vary in size from big, big, big to small vignettes, to everything in-between,” Ballard said.
Included within each mural displayed in Camas will be a crown of some kind--another nod to the role the paper mill has played in the city’s history.
Call said an image that included the paper mill seemed like an appropriate choice for the first mural.
“We are all here because of the paper mill,” she said.
The Columbia River Paper Company was formed in 1884 when Henry Pittock, J.K. Gill and William Lewthwaite formed the Columbia River Paper Company. In 1914, Crown Columbia merged with Willamette Paper to form Crown Willamette, and then in 1928 Crown Willamette merged with Zellerbach Paper to become Crown Zellerbach.
The artwork highlighting this local history has the potential to be a real focal point for the community.
“It will be nice when it’s done,” Erickson said. “There’s nothing down here quite like that. It will be a showcase piece for everyone to see.”