Scanning Carson Valley’s history |

Scanning Carson Valley’s history

by Scott Neuffer

A well-known graphics printer has helped the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce reproduce some historical documents for Douglas County’s 150th year of existence.

At 6 p.m. Saturday at Genoa Lakes Golf Club, the chamber will be hosting its annual gala to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the county’s creation. As part of the event, the chamber commissioned reproductions of two important documents: An 1863 map showing Douglas County within the Nevada Territory for the first time, and also the handwritten legislation that created the county in 1861.

“Various framings will go to our sponsors, and a large, framed version of the map is going to be our silent auction item,” said Chamber Executive Director Bill Chernock. “A smaller framed version will be a prize for our contest, where we will be asking people to select their top 10 most influential people. Whoever gets the closest to what the committee decided will get the framed map.”

The chamber has been working with The Record-Courier, Douglas County Historical Society, and the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs to develop a list of the 150 most influential people in Douglas County history. The top 10 will be revealed at the gala.

“We tried to focus on people whose names would be readily recognizable to a modern audience,” said R-C Editor Kurt Hildebrand. “Many of the names are on the list because they had an impact on the landscape of Douglas County.”

Landscape is something Fish Springs resident Mike Nelson understands. The 57-year-old artist behind the artist was charged with reproducing the map and legislation for Saturday’s event.

“It’s always creative, always a challenge – every piece of art work or restoration brings some sort of challenge. And I love puzzles,” Nelson said. “I get to see the oldest photos from the area, and fabulous pieces of art from hundreds of miles around. I get to participate in bringing something back to life or to the gallery wall.”

Nelson has owned and operated GRAfx 8 Media Group for 10 years.

Housed in Minden’s historic creamery building on Water Street, the business specializes in archival-quality reproductions of fine art and photography. Nelson uses a 384-megapixel camera, along with digital imaging and professional printers, to capture the totality of a given work.

He described the modern process as Giclee printing, French for “squirt,” which simply refers to the pin-sharp inkjet printheads.

“It means any photography or art work can be reproduced on the finest German canvas or fine-art paper,” he said.

Nelson opened GRAfx 8 on a whim.

A man of all trades, he spent the years before sculpting metal, remodeling homes, and running Nelson’s Bar in the Adaven Hotel, which he sold in 1998.

In 2001, Nelson was all set to move to Hawaii to become a dive instructor and videographer. The events of Sept. 11, however, hurt the tourism market, and Nelson took a gamble on GRAfx 8 instead.

What began as photo restoration projects in a 100-square-foot office above Rancho Grande in Gardnerville eventually grew into the 2,300-square-foot digital printing operation in Minden known today.

Literally dozens of local artists and photographers use Nelson’s printing services, as well as the chamber.

“My recipe for success is simple – give people more than they’re asking for, and fix anything that goes wrong,” Nelson said. “Treat each customer like family.”

Last week, Nelson met up with Chernock at the Nevada State Archives in Carson City. Inside the research room on the second floor, Nelson spent two hours setting up his equipment and then another 30 minutes actually recording the documents.

“I had never been to the archives before,” Nelson said. “These are documents they don’t let out of the building. I looked at their scans, and I told them I could do better.”

Nelson is hoping to land more on-site projects with museums and archives in the future.

“It’s extremely specialized,” he said. “I get to see some amazing things; I capture things most people don’t see or don’t have the technology or experience to capture properly.”

Chernock lauded Nelson for his skill.

“He really hauls an incredible amount of equipment,” he said. “The job was really well done.”

Like Nelson, Chernock found the state archives fascinating.

“It’s a very cool feeling to open a book of legislation and very gently, with gloves on, flip through it,” he said. “The research room is amazing. It’s open to the public, and there’s so much information there.”

For more information about GRAfx 8, call 783-1985.

To contact the chamber, call 782-8144.