Walking Tour of South Tahoe Murals and Street Art
Though there's a lot of hills and mountains in Lake Tahoe this particular route is 3 miles of very flat walk. There is great public transportation all the way along the route so that if you get tired you can just hop a bus back to wherever it is you were staying. It is not a very difficult walk. Just about anyone who can walk three miles can do this tour, and it's a really good tour. There is so much great public art here in Lake Tahoe: all the way from Stateline all the way to far, far into California. This particular tour covers the area from Stateline to the American Legion. you can see everything in the interactive map below.
We begin our public art tour with one of the most recognizable pieces of art on the south shore of Lake Tahoe: The Harrah's Pony Express statue. This statue was dedicated by Bill Harrah himself in 1967 to celebrate the centennial of the Pony Express. There used to be a Pony Express stop about 1/4 mile up the road near Edgewood at Friday's Station, where the Pony Express riders would refuel, change horses, and get ready. The Pony Express, if you don't know, was such a dangerous job that they would only hire orphans because they didn't want to have to pay compensation to the families of those who died delivering the mail in the dangerous mail conditions of the 1860s.
|Pony Express rider Statue at Harrah's - More Statues in South Tahoe|
Chainsaw Sculptures by Jerry Toste
There is a lot of other great public art that is available to anyone, just for visiting Heavenly Village. The Heavenly Village cinemas also has some really amazing public art. The lightbox art in front of Heavenly Village cinemas is some of the best lightbox art in town. It was done by DreamsAndVisionsArt.com and they did a truely amazing job.
Sphere of Influence lightbox and dumpster art:
As you walk down highway 50 in Lake Tahoe you will see a lot of the lightboxes have been painted up. In 2009 and before Lake Tahoe used to have a terrible grafitti problem when it came to people drawing on the lightboxes. So, they decided: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." and they hired a local group called Sphere of Influence that diverts kids from graffitti art into doing legitamite street art on the lightboxes.
|Most of the lightboxes along US 50 and Ski Run were put in by Sphere of Influence, a local nonprofit that has a contract with the city to cover up grafitti with art.|
Ski Run Marina:
Our next stop on the Public Art Walking Tour is the complex at Ski Run. Ski Run Marina has an amazing collection of public art that you can see totally for free just for walking in.
|Bear vs. Eagles bronze Statue at Ski Run More Statues in South Tahoe|
There is a wonderful chainsaw sculpture in front of the Riva Grill that depicts an American Eagle with the "United we Stand" logo. It was made in 2005 by chainsaw artist Toste who has done a lot of the chainsaw art in Lake Tahoe. He also did the bears in front of Heavenly Village. There is also a lovely mixed-media map of Lake Tahoe on the side of the Riva Grill building, a very impressive fountain, and most importantly of all, this is one of the concentrated places where you can find galleries in Lake Tahoe.
Dirk Yurkitch has a lovely photography gallery in this complex. There is also the Tahoe Art Connection gallery where you can buy some lovely paintings. In the summertime they have meet the artist events at both galleries, and there's a lot of great stuff to be seen here.
Also, while you're here definitely check out the Tahoe Queen, which is usually docked at Ski Run marina. If you're interested in seeing more of the Tahoe Queen click here to see my original video of the "Dixie vs. Queen Sternwheeler race" that we have every year.
El Dorado County Building
I'm here at Lakeview Commons, which is one of the great public art locations in Lake Tahoe. First of all, it is one of the most photographed sites in the area. If you want to take a good vacation photo of yourself in front of Lake Tahoe, Lakeview commons is a great place to do it. Click here to see the story of Lakeview Common's building delays and how they almost caused environmental disaster.
Lakeview commons just happens to have one of the most overlooked pieces of public art in Lake Tahoe and it's really much less famous than it deserves to be. There is a great tile mural at Lakeview Commons that actually predates Lakeview Commons itself.
It was originally proposed by Patrick Ferris Bennett in 1996, unfortunately he didn't live to see it completed. It was dedicated in 1997 by then vice president Al Gore as the centerpiece of the very first Tahoe Summit. The front of it depicts the view from Lakeview Commons and what all of the fish in the lake are, what all of the mountains that you can see across the lake from Lakeview Commons are, but I strongly encourage you to look at the back of the mural.
The individual tiles on the back of the mural were made by individual high school kids in South Lake Tahoe, and there are tiles from some rather famous people. Famous college basketball player Jared Hass who is now a commentator on ESPN has a tile on there. There's a tile commemorating Tahoe Tessie, there are many, many other great tiles. You can learn a lot about the people of Lake Tahoe in 1997 and the cool thing is that because I went to south Tahoe High School I was in high school with most of the kids who made the back of this mural. It's really cool.
Tahoe Daily Tribune Building
|Tahoe Daily Tribune has a mural of the Tahoe Hotel in the 1930s. More murals in Tahoe .|
Tahoe Visitor's Center, Historical Society Museum, and Tahoe Art League
One of the reasons I reccomend the visitor's center is that there is a lot of very interesting public art right in front of the visitor's center on your way there if you're walking. There is a great big metal bicycle that was put up to celebrate the America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride and the Amgen Tour of California coming to Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago.
And here we come to the end of our walking tour of Lake Tahoe for most of you, unless you're a really strong walker, because we've covered most of the public art on this side of town. I choose to end it at the history museum partly because you can get all of your questions answered right at the Tahoe Art League next door to the history museum, and the history museum will teach you a lot about the great public art that we have in Lake Tahoe and our long tradition of public art.
We have here at the Tahoe Historical Society museum a fine example of a mural in Lake Tahoe. This one depicts the discovery of Lake Tahoe by Kit Carson and John C. Freemont in 1844. In February of 1844, John C. Freemont and Kit Carson crossed over the Carson Pass to Lake Tahoe, to the very first sighting of what they called "Lake Bigler" after the then governor of California.
And it is a really, really interesting story. John C. Freemont, if you don't know, went on to become the very first Republican candidate for President of the United States. He was opposed to slavery 20 years before it was trendy, and Kit Carson has become so famous that they have a statue of him in Carson City in front of the Nevada Legislature. Carson City, the Carson River, and the Carson sink are all named after Kit Carson, and, as Mark Twain said: "When they erected the statue of Kit Carson in Carson City, they made sure the horse's ass faced the legislature." Yeah, that is still how Nevadans feel about their legislature.
This is a good place to end our tour because there's good public transit access here and you can catch the bus back to wherever you came from from right in front of the visitor's center. Also I would strongly encourage you to stop by the Tahoe Art League's art center and gallery where they can answer any of the questions you may have come up with over the course of this
C. Meeks Lumber and the American Legion
Though I told you that a good place to end your walking tour is the museum, there's actually a lot of great material after the museum going towards South Lake Tahoe. Here on the side of Meeks Lumber is one of the most impressive murals in town. It's from the Art 4 Tahoe project and was painted exclusively by local kids with paint that DeVoe and Meeks donated for the process. It's actually one of the most impressive murals in town, and if you're willing to cross the street, usually the American Legion Hall in the summertime has meet the artist maker fairs where you can meet artists and actually buy some stuff, and there's a bus stop that's convenient to get you back to Stateline right there. It's almost as convenient as ending at the Tahoe Arts Project but a little longer walk.