By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
A community-wide celebration, including a free dinner, will be held at the Old Logandale School on Saturday, November 4, beginning at 3:00 pm to celebrate the unveiling and installation of a special mural painted by artist Heidi Leavitt.
Leavitt’s mural, “Valued Foundation” was one of three finalists for the Overton Community Center in a contest held earlier this year. The panel of judges chose another mural for that building. But Leavitt’s grandfather, local resident Paul Lewis, felt strongly that the stories depicted in Leavitt’s mural needed to be told and remembered. He felt that her mural should find a permanent home in the community.
In the original contest, the concept was to come up with design that depicted the history of the valley. So Leavitt, who currently lives in Alamo, began researching old buildings, built by Moapa Valley pioneers, that would still be recognizable to current residents.
However, Leavitt said that as she sketched, her sketches lacked soul. “After much prayer and meditation on the matter, it became apparent to me that as significant as these buildings were, they are not what built the valley,” Leavitt said. “They are not what established the foundation upon which it stands and continues to build upon today. The valley and all that it represents was built by it’s people; and their stories need to be told.”
In order to give her sketches soul, Leavitt began learning about the actual people that settled the area. She took the scenes that she crafted and painted into her mural straight out of Moapa Valley history. She met with members of the Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Paiute Cultural Society to make sure she included what they felt was the best representation of their ancestors’ settlement of the area in her mural. In the end, Leavitt used the stories of about 20 founding families in her mural.
The newest version, which is smaller than her original conception, measures 8 feet X 40 feet and is done on masonite panels.
“The values that these amazing people possessed really stood out to me,” Leavitt said. “Each scene I painted depicted a different value that helped build this valley’s foundation.”
This led to her mural title “Valued Foundation.” Some of the values that are represented are heritage and tradition, faith, perseverance, grit, service, family, patriotism, hard work and working as families, industry, being productive, community and love.
When Lewis commissioned Leavitt to paint this mural, they searched for a place to display it and found that place at the Old Logandale School Historical and Cultural Society, a whole museum dedicated to preserving Moapa Valley history.
Museum directors Beezy Tobiasson and Robin Maughn were very pleased to include the mural in the building and found the perfect place to display it on upper half of the back wall of the main hall.
The unveiling ceremony will take place in that main room and will be followed by a free community barbeque sponsored by Lewis. Everyone is invited to attend, view Leavitt’s work and listen to stories about those ancestors who settled this valley. The menu is deep pit barbeque, and plenty of it, along with side dishes and other things to complement the meal.
Leavitt is excited to share her work with the valley and has lovingly dedicated her mural to the memory of her grandmother, Lou Jeanne Lewis.
“This has been a labor of love because I absolutely love to paint,” Leavitt said. “I absolutely love the valley and the people in it, and more than anything I love my grandpa.”