Kit Carson mural painted at museum

By sometime today, a mural of Kit Carson depicting the highlights of his history should be completed on the wall at the entrance of the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center in Gardnerville.

Beverly Caputo, 43, a local muralist, began the sepia tone painting of the State of Nevada with hand-painted color tint on Carson's figurehead a week ago Thursday and expects to have it completed near the end of this week. The museum is located at 1477 Highway 395.

Caputo chose the specific design for the museum because of its importance in state history.

"When I came up with the concept for this, I wanted to do something about (Carson's) history," said Caputo. "This shows his days as a guide, his fur trapping days and his military days, which is the central figure with the uniform."

Mingled with scenes of Carson, including one with a horse-drawn wagon, are the Eastern Sierra Mountains and wild horses. A compass shows where Nevada sits on the map.

Adding color highlights to the central figure will only help to make the picture look more authentic, said Caputo, "so it will look like a hand-tinted photograph."

Caputo has painted murals at The Business Bank in Minden, Kirkwood Ski Resort and at several private residences in Nevada, California, Arizona and Florida. She also does portraits of people and animals, in a mural or on canvas.

The Business Bank mural took her approximately 32 days to complete, where she expects the smaller museum mural - 9 feet by 6 feet - to be finished in about nine days. The cost varies greatly and the museum work was done at a discounted rate.

"My idea behind this was to contribute in some way to the museum," she said.

She only works about five or six hours a day, because after that her shoulder begins tightening up.

Each job she does is different. At the museum she created preliminary sketches, something she might do if she's not working from a photograph. Sometimes she gets a lot of direction, as through a photograph, and other times she is only given a theme.

"Sometimes clients have an idea and I expand from that," she said. "I just finished a custom log home. The wife had climbed Mt. Tallac, so they wanted Mt. Tallac in it with fall colors and water. From there I come up with it."

Caputo has made a living following her creative abilities.

"I've been working as a professional artist my whole life," she said. "When I was 18 I went to work for an advertising agency. I was self taught."

Caputo lived in Southern California where she created interior thematic designs of new attractions and character design concepts for Disney, Universal Studios and Cabela retail stores. She worked as a commercial illustrator in L.A. for nine years.

She bought a horse named Abraxis, now 17, and a blue front Amazon parrot named Benny, now 22. After years of creating commercial art, she was drawn to working in rural settings, such as painting murals on barns, in the California countryside bordering the city. She visited a friend in Nevada, and since she is single and has no ties, decided to make her home in Carson Valley.

"I moved here in November 2002," said Caputo. "I just picked up the horse and parrot and moved."

Besides soliciting through e-mails every few months, Caputo just takes new work as it comes up. She can be reached at or 781-1335.

"People are still finding out about me," said Caputo. "I don't advertise, my work is by word of mouth."

n Jo Rafferty can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 210.


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