By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Rodeo Mural Celebrates Oakdale’s Western Heritage
Legendary Work
Rodeo Mural
The latest mural designed and funded through OakdaleARTS features legendary local cowboys Bill Martinelli, Jim Charles and Bob Eidson, in addition to Bushwacker the bull. The organization’s vision is “Increasing the visibility and awareness of art in the community” through education, experiences, and events. Their next mural project is scheduled to go before the Oakdale Planning Commission on Wednesday, May 4. Photo Contributed

It is the first of its kind on many levels and while the latest addition of murals completed in the 95361 may not be visible from a main road, it is attracting a lot of attention and rightfully so.

Now in their third year since joining forces as OakdaleArts, group members Cheryl Dillwood, Rhonda McDonald and Nancy Podolsky are brightening up corners all around town through a variety of storytelling murals.

The third and most recently completed art work, known commonly as “Rodeo,” was finished on time, on budget and with much fanfare and appreciation overlooking the parking lot behind the historical H-B Saloon.

Podolsky shared the group had decided they wanted to do something cowboy-oriented in that area of town, noticing the Cowboy Museum as well as the bronze cowboy on horseback sculpture in the courtyard area.

“I thought it was good for the community,” Bo Bacigalupi said of first being approached by Cheryl Dillwood and Nancy Podolsky.

He made note of the previous mural painted in the ‘90s at the East F Street saloon and added he felt the importance of having something to highlight the western heritage of the community.

“I said man if we could put some cowboys up there, that would be really cool,” Bacigalupi continued.

And cowboys he did get.

A photo shared is now emulated as part of the mural and bigger than life. An image of three legendary cowboys, Bill Martinelli, Jim Charles and Bob Eidson now overlooking all who stop by to view it.

According to Charles’ wife Patty, the original photo was taken by a professional rodeo photographer by the name of Devere. A photo which the trio loved so much it was then taken annually.

“When it first started, I took it every ten years and then as we started getting older we’d take it every year they were able to get together,” Charles said of her late husband and his buddies. “The funny thing is, Bob made sure that every single time they posed, they were exactly the same.”

The latest mural is the largest one completed by the group, spanning 100 feet long and two stories high, complete with American flag, three rodeo legends and Bushwacker the bull running off the end of the building.

“It was bigger than life,” Bill’s wife Kay said of her first impression when seeing it completed. “First of all it was such a thrill to have the three of them, because that picture … Patty took a picture of them every year out at the Rodeo grounds in that exact same pose.

“Bill was so humble, he would have just died if he knew that was up there,” she continued.

Not only the largest to date, but this mural proved to be the one which has generated the most support financially. With a budget set at $20,000 and a goal of completion by rodeo in mid-April, Podolsky shared the trio pounded the pavement and had little resistance by way of donations.

“Everybody liked the second one,” Podolsky said of the mural at the corner of F Street and South Third Avenue completed earlier this year. “So as soon as they heard there was a third one, they started donating.”

Coming shortly before the annual Oakdale Rodeo also seemed to have an impact.

“Some of them were specific and wanted to sponsor the rodeo one,” Podolsky continued. “So we had over 90 people donate towards the rodeo (mural), not just because it was a rodeo, but because they wanted to support OakdaleArts to continue creating murals.”

Donations, large and small, all helped create the unique, lasting artwork.

“We had $20 donors up to a couple thousand,” the organizer shared of the $20,000 goal. “That was our budget. And we exceeded that because of the enthusiasm of people wanting not just the rodeo, but more art in Oakdale.”

Both excited and proud to have the opportunity for the mural to be added to the H-B parking lot, Bacigalupi shared both he and his father Mike agreed, the colorful addition was important not for the business, but for the community and the western heritage which still remains in the 95361.

“The amount of money that they raised to do it in a short amount of time, which I knew would happen from the people that come around that place (H-B) didn’t surprise me,” the younger Bacigalupi shared. “From what my dad has contributed to and what he’s donated back to, in the 44 years of being in business and the people who stop in for lunch and dinner and just to say hi; that didn’t surprise me at all.”

Podolsky also shared the first three murals were designed by Dillwood and presented to the muralists, which were hired by the group. Each mural also had to be presented and approved by the Oakdale Planning Commission. The prep of the building for the mural addition must be done and paid for by the business owner. That’s another fact which Podolsky noted being impressed by at the latest project.

Now with funds seeded for future projects and lots of interest from businesses around town, the OakdaleArts organization is continuing to look at future projects.

“We have to set a budget of more than what the artist charges us because we are now assuming responsibility to maintain the mural in case something happens to it,” Podolsky said. “So our budget is set higher than what the artist charges so that we can have some funds set aside in case something came up.”