Winter mural spruces up Vail’s Bridge Street |

Winter mural spruces up Vail’s Bridge Street

Melanie Wong
Town of Vail artists and employees Jenna Oppenheimer, center, and Alee Germiller, left, paint pine trees on a large canvas that will be used to cover a construction zone in Vail.
Justin Q. McCarty | Special to the Daily |

VAIL — As young artists, Jenna Oppenheimer and Alee Germiller have worked with a number of mediums, but none have been quite as large in scale as their current and most public project.

The two town of Vail employees, who both studied art, are creating a 6-by-80-foot mural on canvas that will pull double duty as public art and cover for ongoing construction on Vail Village’s Bridge Street. The acrylic and spray paint mural will depict trees and snowflakes. Oppenheimer and Germiller have been planning and working on the project for nearly a month now and the painting is in its final stages.

The need for the mural began when local businesses began inquiring if the town could do something about the less-than-picturesque construction fence on the village’s main thoroughfare. The fence is in place for work in front of Gorsuch and Pepi’s Restaurant & Bar to create space for a new restaurant. The town couldn’t really do anything about the fence, which is expected to be up through April, but they could definitely put something over it.


“This area is the heart of the original Vail Village and for many a first impression. It has a charm that we want to respect and maintain,” said Molly Eppard, the town’s Art in Public Places program coordinator. “Art in Public Places was thoughtful in selecting the artistic style and quality for the mural installation in this regard. Knowing Alee and Jenna’s artistic talent, I knew this would be a perfect project for collaboration.”

Creating art for the town isn’t Oppenheimer’s and Germiller’s day job, but both are recent art school graduates and they jumped at the chance. The two women are on the town’s landscape crew during the summer and work at the town parking structures in the winter.

Oppenheimer is an avid painter, usually favoring watercolors, while Germiller is an illustrator and painter, using watercolor, pencil, ink and acrylic. The mural, however, presented some new challenges. At first, they planned to paint the mural directly onto the fence, but the cold temperatures complicated the process. Instead, they decided to paint the mural on a large canvas roll with acrylic paint. Right after the images are painted, the artists use a heat gun to set the paint onto the canvas, making it weather resistant.

Then came the decision of what to paint. At first, a mountain range seemed obvious, but they settled on trees and snowflakes.

“Mountains are hard. With a bigger brush, it’s difficult to make it look like a specific range and they end up looking like generic mountains. With trees, there’s movement and it’s more interesting,” said Germiller.

The snowflakes are spray painted on the canvas using stencils and the colors in the mural are inspired by the colors that reflect through snow and ice, the artists said.

“We’ve been working on it together. One person will paint and the other will set it with the heat gun. We haven’t burned paint yet!” said Oppenheimer, who added that working on such a large scale has been a new challenge for her.

Besides the fact that the project utilizes local talent, Eppard said the other plus is that the canvas can be rolled up and reused in the future. Pedestrians on Bridge Street can get a look at the new mural sometime early this week.

“Temporary art installations keep the public art fresh and unexpected in the community. It is especially enjoyable for residents and returning guests to see the variety and changing artistic scene in Vail,” said Eppard.

Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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