To capture the natural beauty of Colusa County and remember a long-time library volunteer, a mural is currently in the works at the main branch of the Colusa County Free Library. 

Stacey Costello, Colusa County Librarian, said she was inspired to create a mural modeled after the popular Color Factory multisensory exhibits on display in New York City and Houston, but with a small town twist. And with the passing of long-time library volunteer Mary Winters last year, Costello said it would be the perfect tribute to her. 

“She loved color and it really captures her vibrancy,” said Costello. 

To get the ball rolling, the library hosted a photo contest in late April, asking the community to submit photographs depicting local culture, life and environment of Colusa County. 

After the contest deadline in May, a committee that included Costello, mural artists Sierra Redding and Ross Roadruck, County Supervisor Denise Carter and a representative from Mary Winters’ family selected the vivid color palette for the mural from 11 photographs chosen from the more than 100 submissions received. 

Costello said all of the photographs received for the contest were really beautiful so the committee was tasked with selecting a variety of works based on several factors, including location and experience of the photographer. 

“We tried to represent the entire county and we really wanted the colors to remind people of things they see around the area, like the yellow from the sunflowers,” said Costello. 

The photographs selected were submitted by Melissa Yerxa Ortiz, Mitchell Yerxa, Jim Zoller, Steve Beckley, Denise Jennings Carter, Mary Marsh, Elly Gutierrez, Penne Arbanasin and Cindy Pronsolino. 

Once all of the photos were chosen, Costello said Redding and Roadruck used a computer program to pull out the color pallets and then set to work deciding which colors would be displayed on the front of the library. 

The mural will wrap around the three walls at the front entry of the library, with each pillar displaying a different color chosen from the photographs and a banner of color wrapping around the top of the building. 

“We really want the library to feel like a welcoming place and the pop of color is really inviting,” said Costello. 

Because the library is a place for literacy, Costello said she also wanted to incorporate art literacy since the community does not get as much exposure as larger cities. To expand on this idea, the theme of the library’s summer literacy program is “Reading colors your world.” 

Before her death in 2020, Winters was a resident of Colusa for more than 70 years. She was very active in the community and served on the city council and several other civic, academic and non-profit organizations as a volunteer or member. 

Costello said Winters was also an intrical part of the Colusa County Library for many years. 

“If you have checked out materials from any of the seven branch libraries added to our collection between 1980-2020, there is a 99 percent chance that they were processed by Mary,” mural organizers said in a statement. “She dedicated every Tuesday afternoon to volunteering at the library, helping to get new materials ready for circulation. She was tireless, lovely and her absence continues to be felt by staff.” 

According to Costello, the mural was made possible through donations from the Friends of the Colusa County Free Library, the Colusa County Arts Council, Colusa Rotary and the Community Foundation of Colusa County, Mural Project. 

The Community Foundation of Colusa County, Mural Project is continuing to collect donations to support more community art projects such as this. To donate, checks made sent to the Community Foundation of Colusa County, Mural Fund, 100 Sunrise Blvd Ste. A3, Colusa, CA 95932. 

Costello said the Mary Winters “Colors of Colusa County” memorial mural is expected to be completed by the end of the month. 

The 11 original photographs from which the colors were drawn will be paired with a literary quote about California and hung inside the library for the community to view, according to Costello. 

To view the photo collection online, visit https://tinyurl.com/2rnrskmu.

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