By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
A final winner has been chosen in the mural contest for the Overton Community Center. Las Vegas artist Gig Depio’s mural was chosen to be displayed on the west wall of the building’s main meeting room.
The final decision was delayed due to the high quality of the final submissions and the difficulty the panel had in choosing a winner. Ultimately, the office of County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick decided to use all three submissions, in some way, in the downtown Overton area – although Depio’s mural will be the one installed at the community center.
Details on how and where to use the runner-up mural ideas of artists Joan Day and Heidi Leavitt, both from Moapa Valley, are still under discussion and in the planning stages. But the Commissioner’s office is intending to purchase smaller versions of the murals from the artists and display them at prominent spots in the community where they can be observed and appreciated while reflecting the rich history of Moapa Valley.
The contest was originally launched last fall and many artists applied for the job, which promised to pay a stipend of $27,000 to the finalist to cover the cost labor and materials. Day, Leavitt, and Depio were chosen as finalists and each awarded $1,000 to create a full design proposal. These proposals were then presented at a MVTAB meeting in March before a panel of judges, selected by the Commissioner’s office. The panel included both local people and art professionals from Las Vegas.
“Each of the mural proposals were incredibly stunning in their own way,” said Community Liaison for Commissioner Kirkpatrick, Janice Ridondo. “Although they were each completely different, they were each completely beautiful and reflected the life and history of Moapa Valley. You could see how involved each artist got with the community.”
Ultimately, the panel chose Depio as the winner and he was notified by letter very recently. Depio’s vision includes a panoramic view of the history of Moapa Valley done with extreme attention to detail. He plans to create his mural on moveable panels that will be installed over the west wall of the community center in a semi-permanent fashion. The installation can be disassembled and moved, however, should the need ever arise.
“I plan to start painting as soon as the funds for my materials are released by the county,” Depio said. “The first three months at least I will be painting in my studio in Vegas. But eventually I will be spending at least a month in Moapa Valley retouching, installing, and sealing the panels in place.”
Depio said he feels very close ties to Moapa Valley even though he was raised in the Phillipines. He began the research for his proposal by visiting Lost City Museum. While there, he heard about a book on the history of the area written by Beezy Tobiasson.
“I got that book and I read it three times,” he said. “It fascinated me. I could see it in my head like it was a movie playing out and I knew I needed to paint that movie in one whole shot for the mural.”
Depio said that one of the places he lived in the Philippines reminded him exactly of how the early pioneers lived here. “We traveled by horse and wagon over rough roads to a little town on a little river with no electricity,” he said. “I really related to how the first Mormons must have worked and suffered.”
In addition to reading Tobiasson’s book on area history, Depio also did some “hands on” research, meeting and talking with people throughout the valley, at Lost City Museum, and even while hanging out at McDonalds.
“I was very excited to learn that Moapa Valley had its own art guild,” Depio said. “I saw some of their work in the museum and was so impressed. I am a member of many similar organizations in Vegas and I think the talent I saw here surpasses what I have seen in Vegas. I am anxious to attend their meetings and get to meet them.”
Depio has a rich history in art. His father was an artist and Depio served as his assistant for 20 years. Although Depio loved art, he had doubts about being able to make a living as an artist, so he got a business degree.
“I didn’t want to always have no money like my dad,” he explained. “But then I realized that a love of art sticks with you.”
With permission from his wife, Depio decided to take a 3-year break and work as a full-time artist beginning in 2013. After a slow start full of many rejection letters, Depio began to see enough success that he is still able to do art full-time, which he loves.
In addition to his art, Depio volunteers with many organizations, including the Las Vegas Artists Guild and several Clark County public art programs. That is where he learned of the Moapa Valley project.
Depio and his wife have one son, who is 16 who also loves art.
Depio invites anyone who is interested to stop by his Vegas studio and see his painting process and the mural as it progresses. The mural is due to be finished and installed before the end of the year.