|Update 1/7/07 Angela Miller Caudill of Kingman, Arizona documents the restoration of Purcell's murals. [Click here.]|
In 1966, Roy Purcell took a break from pursuing a Master's degree in Fine Arts at Utah State University to labor as a miner in the Cerbat Mountains near Chloride, Arizona. While he was there, and with the support of local residents, he painted "The Journey," a 2000-square-foot set of murals on some boulders about a mile and a half outside of town. His work, executed in the abstract Modernism tradition, led to early world-wide recognition for Purcell and helped launch him on a professional career that continues today. For information about his current projects, click here.
The colors Purcell used to paint his murals are remarkably vivid and have withstood harsh desert weather for nearly four decades. Stone carvings and etchings from earlier Indian artists can also be seen in the immediate area.
The town of Chloride was founded in 1862 and was the center of silver ore production for the area. In the early 1900s, Chloride was the county seat and had a population of more than 2000. Today, Chloride boasts the oldest continually operating post office in Arizona. The village is a collection of vintage miner's shacks and heaps of rusting equipment left over from the glory days. Many of the current residents are artists, and whimsical sculptures made from mining artifacts line the streets. Local miners still prospect in the area looking for undiscovered seams of silver from the now-defunct Elkhart lode.
Directions to Chloride, Arizona, and the Purcell Murals: Chloride is about two hours from Las Vegas. From Las Vegas: Follow US Hwy-93 about 72 miles to the turn-off to Chloride. Turn left on County Road 125 and proceed 3.7 miles to the town. Proceed through the town until you see the signs for the murals. Turn right and follow a dirt road about 1.5 miles. There are a number of signs and arrows painted on rocks to keep you headed in the right direction. In summer 2002, the road was passable for two-wheel drive, but it was rough going. There is a wide spot in the trail that serves a parking area for the murals.
September 9, 2002
I used to drive past the sign for
the Chloride Mural turnoff daily on my way to work, so one
day I decided to drive out and see for myself. I stopped in
at a local store and asked "Where are the Murals?",
and was given all kinds of information. I had waited to see
them until just the right time.
From May 27 to June 2, 2006, Roy Purcell along with other artists returned to Chloride to restore the faded murals which were originally painted in 1966. With the help of some area business's sponsorship and 10 other artists, 19 murals were restored, adding vibrant color to the faded panels. Click here to see the work in progress.
If you are ever heading to down US 93 north of Kingman, Arizona, take a detour to Chloride to see the murals. Their beauty is worth the trip.
Angela Miller Caudill