Painting opens wounds over mining on Comstock

CARSON CITY — A painting featuring Nevada dignitaries enacting a pivotal moment in state history is being publicly unveiled next month as part of the Silver State’s sesquicentennial celebration to raise money for preservation projects on the historic Comstock.

But two figures — whom most people won’t recognize — included in the festive scene are rubbing some Comstock residents the wrong way. They say it implies a coziness between elected officials and a mining company they’ve been trying to thwart from digging for riches in mountains and canyons near their homes.

Limited edition prints of “Nine Cheers for the Silver State” by Dayton artist Steven Saylor are being sold as a fundraiser for the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture. The nonprofit group was formed last year by Comstock Mining Co. to raise money for preservation work in Nevada’s historic Comstock region.

Residents along Nevada’s Comstock embrace the region’s storied past, when discovery of silver in 1859 touched off a frenzy of pick- and shovel-hoisting miners seeking fortune. But many oppose Comstock Mining’s renewed push to extract silver and gold from the rugged, dusty landscape with huge earthmovers and trucks.

They are irked that the artwork includes portrayals of two mining company executives — Corrado De Gasperis, president and chief executive of Comstock Mining, and John Winfield, one of the company’s largest investors. Both are also directors of the nonprofit Comstock Foundation.

“The recognition, it just looked sort of old-fashion, perceived of replicating a backroom deal,” said Joe McCarthy of the Comstock Residents Association.

“It comes across a little disingenuous. At least for those who are really sensitive to what’s going on up here,” he said.


What’s going on is a clash between the then and now, where some residents fear industrial mining activities threaten to destroy the tourism and cultural economy — ironically rooted in mining and the romance of the Old West — they’ve worked to promote over past decades after mining played out.

The communities, McCarthy said, “emerged out of extractive industries going bust years and years ago. So they no longer are mining communities.”

De Gasperis called his detractors “good folks.”

Comstock Mining has pledged to try to be a good neighbor. It purchased the historic Gold Hill Hotel and has invested in shoring up old mill sites to preserve the region’s history. The foundation recently announced its acquisition of the Donovan Mill in Silver City, which it plans to restore.

The mining company also has committed 1 percent of its bullion to the foundation for ongoing preservation and cultural work with the historic district.

In the painting, De Gasperis is seated across from Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is signing a proclamation commemorating Nevada’s admittance into statehood on Oct. 31, 1864. Winfield is standing next to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

Set in the historic Cobb Mansion in Virginia City, all the participants are portrayed in period clothing. They include Paul Laxalt and Richard Bryan, both former governors and U.S. senators; former Govs. Bob List and Bob Miller; U.S. Sen. Dean Heller; Rep. Mark Amodei; former first ladies Dema Guinn and Dawn Gibbons; and Ron James, former state historic preservation officer, now executive director of the Comstock Foundation.


James scoffed at the criticism that he said is coming from a vocal few.

“All the feedback I’ve received is overwhelmingly positive,” James said.

“This is to raise money for a nonprofit organization that is doing a great deal to try to save the resources on the Comstock,” he said. “That mining company is donating hundreds of thousands of dollars for that goal.”

He added, “I’m not impressed by the naysayers who aren’t doing anything at all that’s positive,” James said.

De Gasperis said Saylor approached him about doing the painting as a fundraiser.

“He’s the guy who really spearheaded it,” De Gasperis said.

Saylor said he exercised artistic license to include the mining officials in his latest work.

“I asked them to be in it,” the artist said. “The mining people are on the foundation, the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture. They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to do something here that no one else has been doing.”

De Gasperis said he was uncomfortable being included in the painting of notable Nevadans.

“To be honest, I don’t like the fact I’m in the picture, either,” he said. “It was really awkward.”

But he anticipates the prints will raise more than $100,000 “to preserve at-risk resources on our national landmark.”

James said the foundation paid $32,000 for the artwork and expenses, such as costs for making the prints.


Erich Obermayr, a Silver City resident, said the mining officials’ inclusion implies a “clubby atmosphere.” Taken aback, he sent a letter to Reid, saying he found the senator’s likeness in the painting “offensive.”

Obermayr said he has no objection to the painting itself or using it as a fundraiser, and in an interview he acknowledged the foundation has done some good things. But he likened the residents’ ongoing fight against the mining company to Reid’s vocal crusade against the Koch brothers, the billionaire Republican donors the Democratic majority leader has described as “un-American” and a “cult.”

“Your participation is particularly galling to residents of Silver City and Lyon County because, for all practical purposes, Comstock Mining has made itself the Koch brothers of our county,” Obermayr wrote in a Sept. 15 letter.

“Your image is being exploited by the very people you have spent a career fighting against, and their motives are much more self-serving than raising money for a good cause.”

Reid’s office had no comment on the letter, a spokeswoman said.

For Obermayr, chairman of Silver City’s advisory board, the mining issue is a raw wound following the Lyon County Commission’s approval of a master plan and zone change that could allow Comstock Mining to expand operations in and around Silver City. Both the town advisory board and county planning department had recommended denial.

The approval is now being challenged in court.

Storey County commissioners also recently granted a permit allowing Comstock Mining to potentially expand its Lucerne Pit and operations at a nearby ore-processing site and realign a highway to access ore.

On its website, the company said during the first six months of 2014 it poured 9,152 ounces of gold and 97,979 ounces of silver, an increase of 27 percent and 67 percent, respectively, compared with the same time period a year earlier.

Saylor’s works in the past have been used for various fundraising efforts. Two notable piece are “Heavyweights,” done in the late 1980s depicting six former governors who were alive at the time, and “Celebrity Train,” featuring then-Gov. Bob Miller and an array of country-western music stars. Sales of those prints benefited the restoration of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad and Nevada’s State Capitol, according to Saylor’s website.

Reservations are being taken for the 150 prints being made available. Each print is signed by participants and will come with a 1-ounce medallion minted from Comstock silver. They are being sold for $1,150. For an additional $400, the print will be framed and include a second medallion to show both sides of the minting.

The original artwork will be publicly unveiled Oct. 31 at the Gold Hill Depot as part of Virginia City’s Statehood Parade.

1 dead after shooting near Sahara and the Strip in Las Vegas
Lt. Ray Spencer briefs the news media on a shooting at Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South that left one dead. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
2 in custody after chase
Two people were in custody after a chase involving Nevada Highway Patrol and Nye County Sheriff"s office deputies ended in southwest Las Vegas. Las Vegas police blocked off Rainbow Boulevard north of Tropicana Avenue around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Law enforcement personnel prepared to tow a black sedan as part of their investigation. It's not certain what precipitated the chase or where and when it started. Check back for updates.
Police Officer's Vehicle Was Taken During Shooting
Video from body worn camera footage released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Wednesday shows an officer realizing his police vehicle has been taken during the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. It was later recovered at Sunrise hospital with the keys in the ignition and nothing removed. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
See Kitty Hawk’s flying car cruise over Lake Las Vegas
Kitty Hawk takes their flying car for a ride in the company’s hidden test facility in Lake Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Las Vegas police wild pursuit through busy Las Vegas streets
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Man shot strolling through park
A man was hospitalized early Tuesday morning after being shot while walking in a central Las Vegas park. Las Vegas police say the man and a woman were in Molasky Park just after midnight when the man was shot. The pair ran to a nearby supermarket where a security guard called for help. The man was hospitalized and as of 3 a.m. was in stable condition. Police have yet to identify the shooter and no suspects are in custody.
Police investigating shooting at east valley apartment complex
No one was injured late Monday night after someone fired shots at a vehicle at an east valley apartment complex. Police responded just before midnight to the Hamptons Apartments, 3070 S. Nellis Blvd. Someone fired shots at a vehicle that was leaving the complex, and struck the vehicle. Another bullet struck a nearby apartment building. The shooter or shooters remain at-large.
Suspect fires at Las Vegas police before officers shoot, end wild pursuit
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hundreds Attend Slides, Rides and Rock and Roll in North Las Vegas
Hundreds attended the inaugural slides, rides and rock and roll event in North Las Vegas Saturday. The event featured a car show, water slide park and live music. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It's All Rainbows At The Center's New Cafe
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) introduced its new coffeeshop, Little Rainbow Cafe, in June. Rainbows are everywhere, even in the lattes and toast, and employees wear t-shirts with the quote "Be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Owner Ben Sabouri said the concept is "built around the idea of, you know, be kind and treat everybody the same." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a Rainbow Latte at the The Center's Little Rainbow Cafe
The Center, a community center for the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, has a new cafe. Little Rainbow Cafe serves up a pride-inspired signature "Rainbow Latte." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed trying to cross Sahara
A pedestrian was killed Friday trying to cross Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway about 5 a.m. A sedan struck the pedestrian while the person was outside the crosswalk between Maryland Parkway and Pardee Place, according to Las Vegas police. Police also said the driver of the sedan remained at the site of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. This is the 75th fatal crash that Las Vegas police have investigated in 2018.
Man shot multiple times
Las Vegas police are investigating after a man was shot multiple times early Friday morning. The shooting was called in about 3:20 a.m. at the Harbor Island Apartments, 370 E. Harmon Ave., near Koval Lane. The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive, but police are still searching for the shooter.
Former Military Police Corps Officer Celebrates 100th Birthday
Summerlin resident Gene Stephens, who served as a military policeman in WWII and escorted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and President Roosevelt during the war, turned 100 on July 13, 2018. He credits his longevity to living a normal life, exercising regularly and eating three square meals a day. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries
A motorcycle rider was seriously injured Tuesday night after a crash on Charleston Boulevard. The crash was reported just before 10 p.m. near Durango Drive, according to Las Vegas police. The motorcyclist was hospitalized with unknown injuries but is expected to survive. Las Vegas police are investigating the cause of the accident.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara Has Lunch With Students
New Clark County School District superintendent Jesus Jara continued his listening tour by having lunch with students at Red Rock Elementary School as part of the district's summer lunch program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 18 can find a free lunch at 104 different locations across the valley through the summer months. Jara highlighted the free program and the importance of eating healthy during his visit. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Timeline Leading Up to Scott Dozier's Execution
Scott Dozier is set to be executed by lethal injection the night of July 11 at Ely State Prison. Dozier was convicted of the April 2002 killing of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and was given the death penalty in Oct. 2007. In 2016 Dozier asked in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti requesting that he “be put to death.” A three-drug cocktail of midazolam, a sedative; the painkiller fentanyl; and cisatracurium, a paralytic, is expected to end his life. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Program Helps Mothers Battling Addiction
Jennifer Stanert has battled drug addiction on and off for the last 21 years. It caused her to lose custody of one of her children, Alec, after she gave birth while high. A new program at Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals aims to connect mothers like Stanert with community resources and provide case management services while still pregnant to get connected to lactation and parenting classes, group peer support and education on neonatal abstinence syndrome. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Felon caught with guns in Mandalay Bay room 3 years before Las Vegas shooting
A felon was caught with guns in a Mandalay Bay hotel room three years before the October 1st mass shooting. Six weapons were found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th floor room in November 2014. Four were semi-automatic. One was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, according to court documents. Dunbar was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for unlawful possession. The case just came to light in a lawsuit accusing Mandalay Bay of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1st shooting.
Illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas area garner complaints
Clark County received nearly 25,000 complaints over the Independence Day holiday on a new illegal fireworks site. Reports from the site led to at least 10 illegal fireworks busts across the valley overnight. As of Thursday morning, the county is still compiling the total number of citations issued.
House fire displaces 2 people
Two people were displaced after a house fire early Thursday morning. The fire, at 963 Temple Drive in east Las Vegas, was reported just after midnight, according to a battalion chief from the Clark County Fire Department. Crews from the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fire departments also were called in to help. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"Red White and Boom" July 4 Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Full video of the Fourth of July "Red White and Boom" fireworks show at the Stratosphere as seen from the 8th floor Elation Pool. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. (7-04-18) (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Crowds Enjoy Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Revelers enjoyed watching fireworks displays from the Stratosphere's 8th floor Elation pool on July 4. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed in Henderson
A pedestrian trying to cross St. Rose Parkway at Bermuda was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday night and later died. The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Las Vegas police responded initially, but handed over the investigation to Henderson police once it was determined the accident happened in their jurisdiction. Las Vegas police did respond to a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on the Strip. The person, who was hit by a BMW near Fashion Show mall, suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
USPS owes $3.5 million for using Vegas Statue of Liberty on stamp
The United States Postal Service has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to a sculptor after using the Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty in a stamp. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Officer Brent Horlacher shoots at Jessie Murillo
Las Vegas police video of an officer-involved shooting on June 29, 2018. Officer Brent Horlacher, 28, fired a single shot at suspect Jessie Murillo. Murillo was not injured. The radio audio is of the officer who fired the gun and the body camera video is from a different officer. Radio audio excerpts are added to the video and are not the precise times the audio was spoken.
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like