Mural a community effort

Nathan Oster

They toiled at all hours of the day and night, sometimes with others and sometimes in quiet solitude, driven by a shared desire to create a mural that celebrates Greybull’s people and proud heritage and welcomes visitors arriving from the east on U.S. Highway 14.

On Tuesday night, the 27 artists with ties to the Big Horn County Arts Guild (BHCAG) who devoted a combined 386 hours of volunteer labor over the last month turning the vision into a reality celebrated their success with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. 

Deanna Skillman, president of the BHCAG, had the honor of cutting the ribbon, along with Mayor Myles Foley and Economic Development Director Deana Werner, as other members of the guild and dozens of community residents looked on and cheered.

The BHCAG has flourished to the point where it now has 23 members from across the Big Horn Basin.  It took the artists about four weeks to complete the mural.  First came the design of the eight letters in Greybull. Using a projector and working at night, artists then projected the designs onto the wall and traced the base design.  Talysa Klein, owner of the new TK2Designs shop in downtown Greybull, was instrumental in this phase.

After the base design was in place, the artists went to work, building their masterpiece.

“The Greybull mural was one of the biggest artistic undertakings I have had the privilege to be a part of and oversee,” said Deanna Skillman. “It was a joy to work with other artists and see our different creative minds come together and complete something so beautiful. 

“Many of us are not well known in the art communities, and this mural was the perfect avenue to help us showcase our abilities and talents…and it’s very honoring how much the community embraced and encouraged us through donations and compliments.”

Deana’s husband, Bob, said the mural was a perfect undertaking for the BHCAG, which was formed to bring art and culture and beauty into the community which they’ve come to love over the last eight years. For the past two, the Skillmans have owned and operated Bob’s Diner and Bakery.

Bob and other BHCAG members see the Greybull mural as a start and not an end. There are plans for more murals in other BHC communities — Basin could get the next one — and Bob said he hopes they along with special events “awaken an art revival in our town, county and even state.”

Lisa Kunkel, a member at large of the BHCAG, said artist were inspired by Karyne Dunbar, whose murals on the old elevators that were completed decades ago still catch the eyes of passersby on Railroad Avenue.

“We created this new mural in hopes that a flourishing art scene will emerge here in the Big Horn Basin,” said Kunkel. “I'm so thankful to be part of that. 

“As a photographer I rarely paint; this project stretched my creative muscles and allowed an opportunity for growth as an individual. It was impactful to have my own children be involved and help organize the other 12 student artists so they could take ownership in this mural. 

“Think about them returning to Greybull later in life saying, ’Hey, I helped paint that.’"

Roxanne Harwood called working on the mural “a dream come true” adding, “Making a positive impact on my community is a really great feeling. It will help to slow people down as it catches their eye and has a truly welcoming vibe. 

Added Rebecca Kinane, the vice president and secretary of the BHCAG: “I hope the town, and those visiting, will enjoy this mural as much as I do.”

None of it would have been possible without the support of Carla Scharen, who authorized the painting of the mural on the east side of her CC’s Pizza building, facing the U.S. Post Office building.

“It’s awesome … absolutely beautiful,” she said after Tuesday’s ribbon cutting. “A lot of people go to the post office and say every time they come out, they find something different that they didn’t notice before.”


The Artists Behind the Mural

G- Local Students, Lisa Kunkel and Robert Skillman

This letter was a collaboration by Greybull students from the elementary and middle schools, who were led by the guild’s member at large, Lisa Kunkel, with help from resident Casey Hagstrom. Robert Skillman, the guild’s treasurer, and his homeschooled sons Josiah, Ayden and Dominic also helped complete the letter. The G features the Big Horn County School District #3 mascot: a bison in its iconic blue and gold colors. Student artists include middle schoolers Fallon Hoffman, Shelby Hunt, Adeline Kunkel, Carlee Wenskey, and Sebastian Hooglander. Elementary students: Trenton Lowe, Wyatt Kunkel, Heath Hagstrom, Luna Araiza, Amelia Kunkel, Amaya Araiza, and Trystan Hagstrom. 

R- Pam Flitner and Cammy Griffin

A throwback to the founding days of Greybull, the R was a collaboration of guild members Pam Flitner and Cammy Griffin. It features bold colors and silhouettes of Greybull’s heritage, as well as livestock brands of some of the oldest families in the area. A large cowboy hat in the center displays the town’s farming, ranching and rodeo ties, and “1906” (the year Greybull was founded) finishes off the bottom of the letter.

E- Talysa Klein and Roxanna Harwood

The guild’s historian, Roxanna Harwood, and guild member Talysa Klein teamed up to fill the E with images from our streams and skies: in the upper part of the letter, a hawk soars over the mountains in front of a sunset, and in the bottom, various trout species from the area swim beneath our state flower, the Indian Paintbrush. 

Y- Caitlin Aagard

A guild member from Lovell, Caitlin brought the famous bronc, Steamboat, to life in the Y, making it look as though the horse and rider are breaking out of the letter.

B- Rebecca Kinane

Vice president and secretary of the guild, Rebecca Kinane, wanted to highlight some of the most iconic wildlife in the area. With Greybull’s close proximity to both the Big Horns and Yellowstone, she chose several species of big game animals, birds and even our famous wild horses, all painted in bold, bright colors, to fill the B. 

U- Deanna Skillman

The guild’s president, Deanna Skillman, wanted to pay tribute to the area’s Native American heritage. The U features a beautiful dreamcatcher with feathers, one of Deanna’s specialties as a painter, as well as a group of teepees and a Native American chief. 

L- Lisa McDonald

Guild member Lisa McDonald filled the first of the two Ls with some of her favorite wildlife and scenery from around Greybull. A young mule deer buck stands in front of the mountains and rocks, while a meadowlark, our state bird, hangs out in a bush surrounded by Indian Paintbrush.

L- Deanna Skillman, Roxanna Harwood, Rebecca Kinane

The final L was inspired by the Shell Falls paintings of local legend and guild member, Pat Snelling-Weiner. When Pat was unable to participate in the mural painting, Deanna, Roxanna, and Rebecca stepped up to make Pat’s vision for the mural come to life. The L showcases Shell Falls, Antelope Butte skiers, and camping in an image that highlights some of the area’s main attractions and outdoor recreation. 


Support and Background Work:

Priming: Caitlin Aagard and family, Skillman family

Mountains and background elements: Skillman family, Rebecca Kinane, Lisa McDonald, Roxanna Harwood, Lisa Kunkel, Talysa Klein, and Bekkie Benasky

Letter Projection: Talysa Klein, Deanna Skillman, Rebecca Kinane, Lisa McDonald


Donors, Sponsors & Supporters: Tk2.Design, CC’s Pizza, Mountain View Co-op, Sherwin Williams of Cody, Bob’s Diner & Bakery, Kunkel Frame & Photo, Videography by Josiah Skillman, Skillman Family, Rebecca Kinane, David and Debbie Kelly, all the residents who donated paint, all the residents who stopped by and encouraged the artists during the painting process and a handful of individuals who wish to remain anonymous.