Artist races to complete murals

Kingman artist Sandy Rusinko is pressing to finish a job by May 3 that she began "ages ago" when she painted the murals at the entrance to the Powerhouse Route 66 Museum.

Rusinko is busily finishing the store interiors along the typical 1950s street scene depicting life in Kingman along historic Route 66.

She said painting the barbershop was a special treat.

She painted a boy in the barbershop chair getting his first haircut.

"I called my son Garik, now 28, and asked him if he would mind being a permanent part of the Route 66," she said.

"He could not believe I still had a picture of him in the barber chair when he was about two years old."

That is only one of the many pleasures of her work on the Route 66 Museum.

"It's awesome to see this place come together," Rusinko said.

"I painted the murals when the museum was not much more than a gleam in (Toby Orr's) eye.

It is such a great pleasure to be here now to finish the detail." A local contractor, Orr was the force behind restoration of the Powerhouse.

The Powerhouse Route 66 Museum will open to the public Saturday May 5 as part of the Fun Run marking the 75th anniversary of the opening of U.S.

66 in 1926.

Called the "Mother Road" and "America's Main Street," the historic highway has touched several generations of Americans coming west.

The section of the highway from Seligman through Kingman and Oatman to the Colorado River at Topock and Golden Shores is the longest useable section still traveled daily.

Rusinko has the barbershop, a retail store and a hotel to paint before next Thursday.

"If it is not yet finished, they tell me I can paint it," she said.

She has worked with the museum committee through the past year as the renovation of the portion of the powerhouse was completed by Toby Orr's construction company and the museum displays have taken shape.

One of the first items placed in the museum were the murals painted by Rusinko.

They were in storage waiting for the time move ahead.

"There is no way to express my feelings about the part Toby played in this project," she said.

"He just kept at it until the dream was realized."

Orr left the museum committee a year ago after Karen Goudy, former director of the Mohave Museum of History and Art, was hired to take over the development of the museum.

Goudy said the museum came together with lots of hard work by all concerned, including many volunteers who donated many hours.

Goudy will go back into retirement now that the museum is ready to open.

She said the task was easier because the museum committee developed a good plan for her to follow.

The project is the final step in renovation of the Powerhouse Visitor Center.