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Wells Fargo program showcases art in area lobbies to celebrate past

Nevada Day, the celebration of the state’s admission to the union, is often overshadowed by Halloween, with which it shares the date. One place taking an interest in Nevada’s history is the lobby of many of the Wells Fargo Bank branches in Nevada.

“The mural project started a while back, and the idea came from our historical department,” said Wells Fargo Nevada Regional President Kirk Clausen. “They came up with the idea to tailor historical photo murals to the branch.”

Among other things, the Wells Fargo historical department deals with the many Wells Fargo Museums around the country. The concept for each mural is developed and then shared with the local president and the president’s staff. The work is discussed, and changes may be considered and adjustments made before the final work is completed.

“This is a program that really reflects the values of our company and our team members,” Clausen said. “I know what a valuable thing it is to be connected with the communities we serve. When you go into the branches and express an interest in the murals, the manager and the staff are usually in a big hurry to tell you about it and what it means to them.”

Beth Currie, senior vice president of Wells Fargo’s Mural Program, said that the program works with local historical organizations to choose the images, seeking images that historians feel resonate with the community. Program officials are careful to legally clear the images and pay use fees for the printing and display of the images.

“They know the communities best,” Currie said. “We try to create something that creates a sense of pride or optimism.”

The program shies away from controversy, seeking images that will appeal to a broad spectrum of the community without using images that might be of concern to some people. It also tries to keep diverse imagery in the murals, which may touch on subjects such as agriculture, transportation or early landmarks, but ideally, no one topic should overwhelm the image.

“It’s a process that we take very seriously,” Currie said.

Clausen believes the program is more prevalent in Nevada and California, where the more than 150-year-old company has some of its deepest roots. A pamphlet in the form of a passport issued for Nevada’s Sesquicentennial last year lists many of the branches in Nevada that have murals, and some branches still have copies to distribute.

“The murals are a great focus area,” Clausen said. In most of the branches, they’re located so you can enjoy them while waiting for a teller or banker.”

Both Clausen and Currie believe the program will continue and expand, in part because it connects the community to the bank. In some cases, that connection is especially tight.

“The most fun we get with the murals is when someone recognizes a distant relative in it,” Currie said. “We’ve had that happen quite a few times. It’s great to see them posing for a picture with the mural that includes their grandfather or something.”

Wells Fargo banks are open regular hours on Nevada Day.

— To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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