The following press release was issued by the Friends of the Arnold Library:

Arnold’s first large-scale outdoor work of art—created predominantly by its children—is now gracing the side of the town’s library.

The Friends of the Arnold Library, along with a $2,000 grant from the Calaveras County Community Foundation, funded and spearheaded the creation of the ceramic tile mural that depicts the four seasons and reflects Arnold’s personality and its flora and fauna.

Work on the ceramic tiles began early last year. The children of Hazel Fischer Elementary School, as well as home-schooled kids, worked with local artist Robyn Slakey—a children’s art teacher for 40 years—to create nearly 200 small tiles that frame the larger ceramic tile panels the artist created that depict the four seasons of Arnold. The brainchild of Arnold’s County Supervisor Merita Callaway, the mural is 17 by 3 feet.

“We are thrilled and proud to announce the completion of this charming, colorful giant mural that the children of Arnold and the community can take pride in for years to come,” said Ann Robb, president of the Friends of the Arnold Library, a non-profit that supports the library. “We’d like to thank not only the creative children of our town but also the numerous people who helped make it happen from artist Robyn Slakey, Pamela Quyle of Quyle Kilns in Murphys, and local contractor David Morgan to Marcie Powers and Lisa Applegate, Arnold Friends Board members who managed the project. And, of course, it could not have happened without the support of Hazel Fischer teachers, parents and principal Dr. Raymond Fausel.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous grant from the Calaveras County Community Foundation as well as the support of Nancy Giddens, our county librarian,” Robb said.

While the pandemic delayed the completion of the mural, the perseverance of the kindergarten through fifth grade children of Hazel Fischer Elementary School kept the art project going through 2020 and into 2021, as they met with the artist, sometimes outside with masks on, sometimes via Zoom, to complete the project.

The children drew pictures of objects—from snowmen and snowflakes to Giant Sequoias and dogwood blooms, frogs, bears and books—on paper and then transposed them onto wet clay with sticks or fingers. The tiles were high-fired at Quyle Kilns—which has been producing fine pottery for more than 65 years—and then the children colored them with glazes. They were fired again and then assembled by the artist into the giant ceramic tile mural.

The Friends of the Arnold Library is a volunteer non-profit group providing support to the Arnold Branch Library through bi-annual giant used book sales, fundraisers and community outreach. To join the Friends or receive its newsletter, send an email to friendsofthearnoldlibrary@gmail.com.

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