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This mystical mural combines desert and sea

by Jo Buckhouse, Record Courier

Finding a solution for 225 square feet of blank wall in their new kitchen led Dennis and Susanne Robbins on a search ending with a Greg Drinkwine original mural.

The Robbinses’ East Valley home is being remodeled to showcase their spectacular views from the kitchen and great room.

At 5 feet, 3 inches, Susanne Robbins had one special request, “Why should I have a kitchen full of upper cabinets and shelves that I can’t reach? Why not open up the room rather than creating a dark, wooden cave of cabinets?” she asked.

The next question was how to best use the expanse above the counter tops.

“Since we are longtime ocean sailors and also love the mountains and high desert, we decided to do a mural in the kitchen combining our two loves,” Susanne explained.

She said she had heard about the sliding rocks of Death Valley as a child living in Tonopah and was struck by the similarity of rocks sailing over a dry lake bed and boats sailing over an ocean. So, the mural began to take shape. They’d have boats and rocks sailing over a dry lake bed on a collision course, she said.

Finding an artist to paint the mural was the next task. Following an article in the R-C, the couple found Valley artist Greg Drinkwine.

“I love to paint and I love people,” Drinkwine said.

Drinkwine and the Robbinses clicked immediately.

“Greg came up with a sketch and proposal far and above anything we had thought of,” they said.

The finished painting includes surreal subjects such as a message in a bottle and an hourglass in the sky pouring sand into an overflowing cup. Bristlecone pines representing the persistence and longevity of earlier generations overlook the mural.

Drinkwine puts every ounce of energy and soul into his works, Dennise and Susanne said.

“The painting totally consumes me when I’m working,” said Drinkwine.

After graduating from the Art Student’s League and becoming a master of painting, he enrolled in the Ecole Albert de Fois in France which employs the one master-one student atelier method. After years of painting in New York, Drinkwine and his family reversed the usual order of things and followed both sets of their parents to Gardnerville five years ago.

Drinkwine said, “I learned painting on the streets of New York City’s Chinatown. I’d be painting at my easel on the sidewalk and pretty soon I’d have 10 people around me and then in not much longer I’d look up and it’d be 100. Art is to look at, and I achieve my best when people are engaging in the process with me.”

The result of their collaboration, the Robbinses said, is a novel approach solving the original kitchen dilemma of 34 linear feet of prominent bare wall.

Drinkwine’s paintings are exhibited at the Genoa Gallery. He also owns and runs a fine arts frame shop, Golden West Gallery, in Gardnerville.

Jo Buckhouse is a freelance writer who will soon move to Carson Valley.