Vail Mountain Ice Bar lives again in Olive Moya mural at transportation center |

Vail Mountain Ice Bar lives again in Olive Moya mural at transportation center

Town of Vail Art in Public Places coordinator Molly Eppard, left, celebrates with Denver artist Olive Moya in front of Moya's recently completed mural in the Vail Transportation Center on May 4. Moya completed the mural using a technique called wheat pasting.
John LaConte /

Denver artist Olive Moya said she encountered no surprises in applying her wheat pasting technique to the walls of the transportation center in Vail last week.

Moya’s new mural, a project of the town of Vail’s Art in Public Places public art program, was completed ahead of schedule and is now available for viewing.

Art in Public Places chose Moya for the work, taking notice of her wheat-pasting technique of applying photos, and offered her a few old photos of Vail to choose from, along with a couple of walls in the transportation to use as her canvas.

For the large wall outside La Cantina restaurant, the biggest and most visible location of Moya’s workspace, she chose a shot she said might have been a throwaway in today’s digital age.

“One of the things that draws me to historic photography is that people don’t keep images that they don’t like anymore,” Moya said.

The image she uses on the large wall “is a little like one of those images that someone would throw away or delete off their phone — this lady is just kind of mid squint, sunning herself — but with film photography, those images all exist,” she said.

‘Mid squint’

Moya’s work overlays abstract shapes on top of the old images, covering certain aspects up and drawing your focus to others. In the large space outside of the La Cantina, we see Moya’s “lady mid squint” throwaway photo recast in a lead role, with a sign for Bill Whiteford’s elicit Ice Bar on display behind her.

Whiteford’s Ice Bar was mentioned in the 2012 Roger Brown film “The Rise of America’s Iconic Ski Resort,” which is on sale in the Colorado Snowsports Museum gift shop in, located in the transportation center adjacent to Moya’s mural in Vail Village.

“We went up there at night, gathered ice blocks, built the ice bar at night and opened it during the day,” an unnamed accomplice says in the film. “It was a howling success.”

Moya’s Ice Bar sign and the actual bar of La Cantina can both be observed in the same view for anyone descending the transportation center staircase.

Moya also used the space outside of the snowsports museum office as an additional canvas, applying another photo using a wheat-pasting technique.

While the Ice Bar photo was a throwaway, the picture outside of the museum office looks more posed. In it we see the Vail Gondola, filled with skiers, and more skiers on the slopes below, waving to the skiers in the gondola car. Moya described that photo as looking more like an advertisement.

“Slightly cheesy, but in a great way,” Moya said of the image.

Denver artist Olive Moya stands next to her work outside of the Colorado Snowsports Museum office in Vail Village, where she created a new mural last week.
John LaConte /

Creative control

Moya said once she selected the two images she wanted to use from the six she was offered, she was given a lot of flexibility to work within the framework of her style.

The town of Vail’s Art in Public Places board, which selects projects for public spaces in Vail, had been eyeing Moya’s work for years, said Molly Eppard, Art in Public Places coordinator.

“Denver has a great collective of female muralists and street artists, and we wanted to invite some more females to come and paint some walls in Vail, and we loved Olive’s work,” Eppard said. “We’re lucky that we have a good board that doesn’t design by committee, they let the artist be the artist, they have been really steadfast toward that, allowing the artist to create and supporting them in their endeavors.”

Moya said she expects the wheat-pasting technique, combined with her acrylic paints and a layer of anti-graffiti protective material, to last for years on the transportation center walls, even if it is subject to several years worth of spilled salsas from La Cantina.

“I don’t see it degrading easily,” she said.

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