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Her Mark C olleen Mitchell-Veyna has gone around and painted towns red all over America. Well not literally. at wouldn't make her much of a muralist, using only one color. But she has had a great time leaving her artistic mark on innumerable towns throughout the United States. I actually mean in- numerable, Mitchell-Veyna couldn't recall the amount of towns she has painted murals for when asked early in the summer. But the Visalia-based artist can recall all the work that goes into the mu- rals that she leaves for towns to rally around and appreciate. For Tulare County, some of her most admired work is in Exeter. After all, that was where she fin- ished her first mural back in 1996. Mitchell-Veyna's gigantic depiction of an orange harvest at the corner of Pine and E streets at Mixter Park was Exeter's first mural. And while she was painting it, Mitchell- Veyna was not sure what was going to become of the town at the time. "I see what it does for cities. I was unsure [about Exeter's mural], because I did it when it was becom- ing a ghost town," said Mitchell-Veyna. "Now it's become more of a tourist attraction… and I'm not sure it would work for every city, but Exeter did it right. It worked really well for them." Mitchell-Veyna is right. Today, regular resi- dents will often see mural docents guiding tours of visitors through the town describing the art that decorates the streets. In fact, since Exeter jumped into the mural craze, tourists have visited the quaint town specifically to admire what artists have man- aged to do with their canvasses. And with the added tourist attraction, Exeter became one of the most beautiful painted places in America, and it all start- ed with "Orange Harvest." Most artists say that they throw themselves into their work, and for Mitchell-Veyna that is par- tially true. For "Orange Harvest," she depicted her own children sitting under one of the orange trees Col l een Mitc hel l-Ve y na Leav e s on Tul ar e Co unt y Text and Photography by paul myers A U T U M N 2 017 S E A S O N S M A G A Z I N E 19

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