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Husband & wife earn hall of fame nod for murals

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Husband & wife earn hall of fame nod for murals

Gayl and Tom Wilson are being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED May 17, 2009 1:04 a.m.
Most people look at a wall and see just a wall. Tom and Gayl Wilson see walls as a potential way to showcase the culture, history, economy, people, and art of Manteca.

The couple is considered by many as the driving force behind the Manteca Mural Society’s efforts to bring large-scale murals to the central district.

The murals are credited with generating renewed interest not just in downtown and the arts but also in people wanting to find out more about the community they live in.

For that accomplishment, the Wilsons are being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 23, as part of the Class of 2009. They are being inducted in the field of the arts.

Also being inducted are Nick DeGroot, agriculture; Mike Morezone, athletics; Roberto Sepulveda, at large; Mike Atherton, business; Steve DeBrum, community service; Jim Brown, education; and Joel Tokheim, health care.
Tickets are $40 apiece. They are available through the Manteca/Lathrop Boys & Girls Club by calling 239-KIDS.

The Wilsons were vacationing on Vancouver Island in British Columbia in 1996 when they discovered the drawing power of murals.

It was a town called Chemainus where the lumber industry had been the major economic engine before its decline. One store owner commissioned a mural depicting the dying industry. Another store owner followed suit. Eventually there were more than a dozen.

“It ended up becoming a big drawing card for the town and the merchants revamped their business to cater to the tourist trade,” Tom Wilson recalled several years ago.

The Wilsons thought the same positive economic impact could be derived from murals in downtown Manteca as well.

Tom Wilson, a Manteca Planning Commission member at the time, first brought up the idea of murals for downtown Manteca when he was serving on the Vision 2020 Task Force.

The idea was incorporated in the task force’s report. The Wilsons, though, didn’t stop there. They forged ahead with the idea and called together community members and formed the Manteca Mural Society.

The Mural Society has been responsible so far for eight murals that grace downtown walls.

While the Wilsons credit the success of the mural project to a community effort, the husband-and-wife team has committed extensive time and resources to the effort playing pivotal roles in fundraising, securing artists, and community participation. Tom has been the driving force behind securing wall space and raising funds while Gayl serves as the key collaborator in working with muralists and local artists as well as developing the contents of the murals plus staging events as the Mural Fest and Murals in a Weekend projects.

The couple are owners of Wilson Group Realtors. Tom is active in the Manteca Noon Rotary while Gayl is involved with the Manteca Soroptimists.

They also support Manteca Friends of the Library and the Manteca Historical Society of which Gayl is a board member.
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