Painting has been one of Ron Spears’ greatest passions in life.
As the artist of Nevada’s sesquicentennial postage stamp, the Reno resident and university professor earned a great honor when he was commissioned to design a stamp to portray the uniqueness of the Silver State during its year-long 150th birthday celebration. On Saturday at the Northern Nevada re-dedication of his stamp at the Old Fallon Post Office, Spears said the two plus years of working on the project was well worth the time, especially when the stamp was officially unveiled last month in Las Vegas.
“It was fantastic, realistically a surreal, wonderful event,” Spears said, as he was setting up a small display at the Old Fallon Post Office.
And he was equally thrilled to be showcasing his stamp in Fallon.
“I am thrilled, and this is nothing less than what occurred in Las Vegas,” he said. “I am thrilled to be here today.”
For two years a committee reviewed his various designs, 15 in total, until it picked — what Spears said — was the one scene that most members liked.
According to David Rupert, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Denver, “The stamp art depicts a close-up view of an area in Fire Canyon, part of Valley of Fire, Nevada’s oldest state park. The painting is an oil-on-Masonite panel … The sandstone formations glow in shades of brilliant reds and yellows — a result of various quantities of iron in the rock — highlighted by deep purple and blue shadows.”
Spears, who is an art professor at Southern Utah State University in Cedar City, said one of the greatest satisfactions that artists receive is knowing their art will outlive them.
“That is pretty special,” Spears added.
Before the re-dedication began, Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. and his co-chairwomen from the Mayor’s NV 150 Commission — Michon Mackedon and Valerie Serpa —received a communiqué from a Pony Express Rider. Then, attendees moved inside to hear speeches and the reading of a mayoral proclamation.
Tedford said it was only fitting to have a ceremony at the Old Fallon Post Office, which was built in 1928 and opened for service in 1929 until it was replaced in the late 1960s. Tedford was equally impressed with the stamp.
“Those of you who have seen the stamp, it is quite beautiful,” he said of Spears’ artwork.
Postmaster Jerry Wilson said Saturday’s event honored Nevada’s history.
“It is important for the community and the State of Nevada to celebrate this event,” he said.
When Spears took the podium, he held up the centennial stamp — an engraving of Carson City — that was designed for Nevada’s 100th birthday in 1964.
“Stamps are milestones and take us back in history and give us context today,” he said.
Just like 2014, Spears said 1964 was a historic time in American history, drawing a contrast to Nevada’s statehood to the world 100 years later. He said the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali, the Beatles and the passage of the Civil Rights Act all earned a place in 1964.
After the dedication, Spears, along with representatives from the State of Nevada and Fallon Post Office, sold either sesquicentennial apparel, commemorative stamps of Spears’ drawing or autographed prints on the stamp.
Later in the afternoon at Oats Park, a Wells Fargo stage continued the sesquicentennial activities by offering rides on a replica stagecoach that was used to carry passengers on the West’s dusty trails and visit those unique watering holes and stops that have now become part of the Silver State’s lore.
The evening wrapped up the day’s various celebrations with a free Concert in the Park with the band Los Texmaniacs.