SELMA – The “Tree of Life” mural painted by Las Vegas artist Ezequiel Lee Orona and his grandson, Abel Jesus Orona was officially welcomed to Selma’s landscape with a ribbon-cutting reception Feb. 6.

The mural is painted along the northern wall of the Selma Pet Clinic with permission by veterinarian Dr. Sukhwinder Singh.

“The mural was designed to convey the message that these precious animals are placed in mortal danger of becoming extinct. Their demise is a result of man’s greed,” Orona said in a written statement. He was unable to attend the reception so mural coordinator Vicki Filgas Trevino read from a letter he’d written. “The targeted all carry a price and a bull’s-eye on them. This small mural, in a small way gives them a voice. We need to hear them and do our best to protect them from the hands of man.”

Trevino went on to thank the numerous supporters it took to fund the mural. She specifically mentioned Mike Derr and the Selma Arts Council, Selma Kiwanis Club, John Hoyt, Selma Rotary Club, Bob Allen, Andy and Yvette Montijo, Harold Phillips with Martins Jewelers, California Water Service, Bank of America, EECU Selma Branch and CPA John Martin.

Martin was given the honor of dedicating the mural as he’s donated to all the murals that have been installed in town. He said he picked his long-time friend, Bill Tucker.

“I know Vicki and she works hard at it. I like all kinds of art. I don’t donate for recognition, but if I believe in it, I donate money.”

He said he picked Tucker as the two have known each other for decades.

“John was my best friend of 50 years and his wife, Paula, asked me to come. We’d met at Reedley College and we’ve been to Africa and all over the United States together. We hunted a lot of coyotes that why I nicknamed him ‘Coyote Bill.’ The murals really brighten things up.”

Dr. Singh said he was glad to cooperate with the mural’s installation as it sends an important message.

“Normally wouldn’t have done anything [with the wall]. For the artist to make the extraordinary effort to preserve and come up with something creative and make something beautiful, I think this was the most creative thing. This is something we must preserve and remember.”

Orona added that since art is meant to provoke thought and emotion and is a very personal expression, it isn’t necessary that everyone likes or understands it.

“My suggestion is that instead of closing the door to art, open your hearts, get your brains going, ask questions if you don’t understand it and embrace all forms of art. We are so privileged. Thank you to the artists, donors and those who made it happen.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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