New mural brings NAU to downtown
By Aurelia Acquati
After nine months of putting their hearts, sweat and souls into the True Blue Mural in downtown Flagstaff, a dedicated team finally saw it come to fruition. NAU faculty members, students and community members gathered to witness the mural signing event on Sept. 13.
“I’m proud. I love this town!” Brian White, NAU alumnus and board member of the Lumberjack Athletic Association, said.
White is considered to be the brains and imagination behind the mural, even though he repeatedly expressed how much of a team effort it was. Although the project seemed daunting and unattainable at times, the finished product was nothing less than enjoyable.
“It’s a process because so many people are involved in it,” White said. “In many ways it’s enjoyable, but it was frustrating at times. It couldn’t have happened without the participation of so many people. It doesn’t happen if we don’t have the wall; it doesn’t happen if we don’t have an amazing artist to turn all those ideas into a mural.”
The wall is owned by Mary and Dave Velasco, supporters of NAU, who played a prominent role in allowing the project to take place. Located in the heart of downtown, the mural is displayed on a wall that emphasizes the connection between the university and Flagstaff.
Mason Gerety, president of the NAU Foundation, explained the traditions found within the mural. He said the purpose of the mural is to engage the community in NAU’s lifestyle.
“There [are] a lot of traditions [in the mural],” Gerety said. “You’ve got, of course, the downtown support of the homecoming parade. You have many, many of the NAU traditions up there, [like] of the axe being planted. You’ve got things from Old Maine, which is the oldest building on campus, to the new face of NAU—the brand new Skydome renovation. We’re trying to really engage the downtown community in what NAU is all about.”
White’s wife, Alison White, suggested Joe Cornelius, a longtime resident of Flagstaff, to paint the mural. Cornelius said it was a learning experience he had the privilege to be a part of.
“It’s a huge privilege and I am so thankful,” Cornelius said. “It’s been so neat to learn the culture that backs this idea here. I’m not alumni and this was such a learning experience for me to take in all the ideas that were submitted, and having to put them into a picture.”
Cornelius understood the emotion and memories the mural holds for many people, which connects the university to the community. He thanked those who encouraged and supported him throughout the process.
“I realized the nostalgia, the history and the connection that NAU actually has,” Cornelius said. “It’s more than just a university; it’s a culture and it’s this unified effort of people coming together and doing something that really matters. So, I want to give my heartfelt thank you to all of those who have come and encouraged me all along the way.”
Cornelius signed his artwork for the crowd after he spoke at the event.
Lisa Campos, vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said the mural means a lot to her and the university as a whole. She stated this is an exciting time for athletics and she is proud to be part of the unification and support the mural represents.
“This means so much; not to just me but to the entire athletic department and the institution,” Campos said. “It just shows the support that this community does have for NAU. There’s a lot of excitement right now for athletics, and this just kind of kicks it off. I’m just here at the right time.”
White wrapped up his speech by stating NAU and the community formed a bond that cannot be broken. He riled up the crowd with his emotion-filled statements of the inseparable bond and forever being a lumberjack.
“NAU changed this town in the late 1800′s when we got started,” White said. “Now, it’s inseparable and we cannot extract NAU from it, or vice versa. It is one in the same and I am absolutely passionate about it. So go Jacks!”