Have you driven by the newest member of Gardnerville yet? Standing at 12 feet wide and 24 feet high, the mural is located just north of Gardnerville Station – a can’t miss spot by those driving north on Highway 395. The painting depicts historical Main Street Gardnerville with a nod to the area’s agricultural history (see tiny cows) and of course, is all set against the snowcapped mountain backdrop Carson Valley is best known for.
The mural was a collaboration between Main Street Gardnerville and one very talented Virginia artist, Cheyenne Renee, as part of her dream to complete 50 murals in all 50 states. She embarked on this journey earlier this year with the goal of completing it by 2025. Nevada is her sixth state, and Gardenville’s mural holds the title of both the biggest within the project to date and the biggest she has ever done. The town of Gardnerville built this free-standing canvas just for this purpose, and certainly didn’t slack on the size!
Big Talent, Bigger Heart
Cheyenne first started painting in her early teens, later pursuing internships and art as a career at the encouragement of her mom and grandmother. Her idea to pursue murals was born after she married her husband Jordan, who shared the urge to hit the road and see the country together. “I really wanted to figure out a way to keep doing what I love doing, while also traveling as much as we could in our first few years of marriage.” She says.
The project wasn’t born from that aspiration alone though, in fact, that was more like the icing on the proverbial cake. In her career, Cheyenne has held positions where she was part of the growth and revitalization of downtowns, something she says is a major passion point for her. Coming from a small town herself, she has a deep love of smaller communities and seeing those areas thrive, effectively “falling in love with how art and community can work together.” The goal of her 50 in 50 project is to highlight the areas that are the lesser known, hidden gems of the country and bring public art and awareness to those places.
Enter, Carson Valley
As this idea began to take hold, Cheyenne started her hunt for the towns that would fit the bill. She announced her big project on social media, asking fornominations of deserving towns in each state. Interestingly enough, it was her aunt who nominated Gardnerville. She did a deep dive on the area and found that it was a perfect fit and “looked like the type of place that I would love to visit even outside of this project.” From there, she linked up with Main Street Gardnerville – a passionate, nonprofit organization whose goal is to revitalize downtown Gardnerville while preserving the town’s history – and the work began.
The project took nine days from start to finish, including meetings and design. The highly visible location of the mural lent itself to several visitors stopping in daily to watch Cheyenne work her magic. It didn’t bother her in the least bit, in fact, she enjoyed getting to know the members of the community. “Everyone here is so nice!” She says. The feeling is mutual, Cheyenne.
At the end of each of her projects, she visits local businesses and captures it all on film for future documentary style footage of each of the towns she has visited. She says, “It is about so much more than the mural, it’s about the local artists and businesses within the community.”
The best ideas are often born from a combination of passion and the deep yearning to do something for the greater good, which is exactly what the 50 in 50 project is. In addition to supporting smaller communities, she hopes her art gives people a reason to travel across and experience the entire country – one hidden gem and incredible mural at a time. Of course, this is just the tip of the, er, brush for Cheyenne. She has 44 states to go and with her husband and Tao (her sweet two-year-old Siberian husky) by her side, she is leaving her mark one brushstroke at a time. Her impact will certainly be felt for years to come, and we hope Carson Valley has left a lasting impression on her in kind. Follow along on her journey on Facebook, Instagram and her website and don’t forget to stop by and grab a photo with her incredible mural! For directions, click here.