Walla Walla's 'Vineyard Van Gogh,' completes mural for local hotel

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Walla Walla's "Vineyard Van Gogh" has completed a one-of-a-kind mural encapsulating life in the Walla Walla Valley for the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center.

Jeffrey Hill's latest piece -- a triptych or three-paneled mural -- was months in the making and is now on display outside the Explorer Ballroom, hotel officials said.

The pieces are brimming with elements that depict life in the Valley, including a roaring train, an airplane, the historic hotel and an homage to Walla Walla's agricultural history with onions and apples in the bed of a Ford truck.

The piece was commissioned by hotel owners Kyle and Brenda Mussman who had also worked with Hill on a two-panel piece for the Fireside Room. In a statement Wednesday, Brenda said the piece is the perfect fit for the hotel.

"This space screamed to be filled with something, and through Jeffrey's creation it is a tribute to the hotel, our valley, our history and our lives," she said.

Having collaborated with Hill on the project, the piece also includes numerous details dear to the Mussmans. Brenda's parents and uncle are featured in the car in front of the hotel. Kyle's grandfather is portrayed on a motorcycle driving into town. Kyle and Brenda are also featured as a pair of dancers in the grand lobby.

The piece was completed last Friday. According to the announcement, it began in charcoals drawn on three five-by-eight-foot panels in the Sunset Terrace Room. Brenda helped with the overall subject content with Hill's vision to capture the roaring '20s when the hotel was built. When Hill was ready to add color, the triptych was moved to its permanent home.

Hill said the project drew a lot of attention from hotel guests, who stopped to talk or have their photo taken with him while he was working. "It was really exciting to see tourists, even international tourists, ask me to pose with them," he said.

The Salem motorcyclist who came through Walla Walla as part of a trek to visit every single Dutch Bros. Coffee stand in the country raised more than $5,000 for his cause.

Long-distance motorcycle tourist Paul Peloquin hit up all 162 Dutch Bros. in as many hours on a fundraising mission for Salem transitional home Shelly's House. The home is set up for women who have recently been released from prison. The money raised will go toward household supplies and equipment, according to the announcement from Dutch Bros.

Peloquin's tour started in Colorado Springs and took him through Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho and Washington, before ending his trip in Oregon. He was greeted at a finish line barbecue in Grants Pass, Oregon, the headquarters of Dutch Bros.

Peloquin figures he raised roughly a dollar per mile and plans to continue fundraising. Those interested in participating can learn more at www.twowheelsfortransition.org.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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