With each swipe of a paintbrush, Maria Grazia Repetto taps into her imagination of Camas past and present.
“My mother is an artist. I remember sitting beside her when she was at an easel and painting,” Repetto said. “I had a desk at school. Instead of taking notes, I was always drawing on the desk.
“I am an artist,” she added. “I’ve been an artist my whole life.”
Repetto paid enough attention in school to earn a master’s degree in fine arts in Genova, Italy. She moved to Seattle, in 1997, and then to Camas to live near her grandson.
After completing a mural that illustrates what Camas looked like back in the early 1900’s, Repetto is back on a ladder with paintbrush in hand.
This time, she is working on the Ford Fusion No. 16 racing car made famous by NASCAR driver and Camas native Greg Biffle. It’s located on a building on Cedar Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues.
“What I am really trying to capture is the movement of the car down the wall. And then, the portrait of Biffle next to the car waving at people,” Repetto said. “It’s a beautiful project. Hopefully people who like racing will come and take a picture by it.”
Repetto is working closely with Marquita Call, co-owner of Camas Gallery and Jim, Jeff and Jonathan Peebles, owners of the buildings the new murals are being painted on.
“Without these boys, we wouldn’t be allowed to do this,” Call said.
Once the Peebles saw Repetto’s work on the first Camas mural, it was easy for them to jump on board with this new design. Jim Peebles also went to Camas High School with Biffle.
“The City of Camas is very proud of him,” Jim Peebles said. “We haven’t had very many people who are famous come out of Camas. When we do, we latch on to them.”
Camas Gallery established the Camas-Washougal Mural Project in partnership with the Clark County Mural Society and the C-W Chamber of Commerce. The theme of the project is “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” These murals will tell a story of the events, monuments and notable citizens who shaped the birth and development of Camas and Washougal.
“Every mural in town will also have a hidden crown in it, because of Crown Zellerbach,” Call said.
The building used for this mural project used to be a Nash car dealership decades ago. Once Repetto completes the Biffle section, she will paint a Nash Rambler on a second wall to tie the present with the past.
“Greg Biffle appeals to a younger generation, and the Nash Rambler appeals to my generation,” Call said. “This mural will have a little something for everyone.”
All Camas-Washougal mural projects are funded by donations. To help out, contact the Camas Gallery at 817-2415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets are now on sale for the 2014 Camas in White event on Sept. 6. It will be held from 5 to 11 p.m., in downtown.
Tickets cost $30 each. Groups can reserve a table for $300. To purchase seats, visit www.camasinwhite.com.
All of the proceeds from this event benefit the Camas-Washougal Mural Project.