Student muralists hope to bring visitors to Mosquero

Thomas Garcia

To the north of Quay County sits the small community of Mosquero, where its school students are trying to revitalize the town through murals based on Harding County’s history.

Mosquero High School senior Jerome Wheeler and junior Gabriel Trujillo have been working with their classmates to prepare three walls of local business buildings for murals.

Tucumcari muralist Doug Quarles is working with Wheeler, Trujillo and 15 other high school students. Quarles has painted murals in Tucumcari and has been recognized nationally for his work.

“We are hoping to liven up the community and attract more people to our town,” Trujillo said. “These murals will be about Mosquero and its history.”

The students have been speaking with local residents about their family history to select people and events to depict on the murals, said Donna Hazen, a Mosquero school teacher.

“The community is completely behind us on this,” Wheeler said. “We have even painted and re-signed the front of three business. They were very thankful for what we have begun.”

Pat’s City Bar, Mosquero Town and Country Market and Ermas’ Coffee Shop each received a facelift and new signs painted on their buildings. ach of these businesses were also chosen by the students to feature a mural.

Wheeler said that while he, Trujillo and Quarles work on the signing and murals, freshman William Jeffery helps to coordinate the other students with the additional painting and responsibilities.

“I work with the other students to prep, clean and paint the walls and trim,” Jeffery said. “We want to attract people to come and see what we have been doing and maybe encourage them to stay and send their kids to school here.”

The murals are possible through a $10,000 Rural Revitalization Initiative grant from the New Mexico Rural Education Bureau, Hazen said.

The grant focuses on improving educational opportunities, development of community partnerships, and strengthening school-family-community relations.

Hazen said that Quarles was recommended to share her to work with the students because of his past work with murals and art.

“The kids enjoy working with Doug. His experience will benefit them greatly,” Hazen said.

Before working with Quarles, Trujillo and Wheeler had painted several walls in the school, including pirate ships in the looker rooms and several other tributes to the school mascot, the Pirates.

“It is great being able to work with Doug,” Wheeler said. “This week we are going to work on portrait paintings on canvas.”

“Being able to learn and work with Doug will also help us in the long run if we choose to pursue a career in art,” Trujillo said.