Wasco Tribune - Serving the community since 1970

By Toni DeRosa
Wasco Tribune 

Festival's featured artist rooted in Wasco


August 22, 2019 | View PDF

Toni DeRosa | Wasco Tribune

2019 Wasco Festival local artist Shirell Sanford.

The 2019 Wasco Festival will feature the work of a local, well-known artist who has been creating pieces for over 30 years. The art can be seen by visiting Wasco High.

Shirell Sanford was an art teacher at Maple School for 34 years and has been able to take what she taught in the classroom and bring it to life through her artistic projects. Her preferred medium is pencil; however, she has one very recognizable painting of a huge "W" on the back of the Wasco High gymnasium.

Sanford was born in Wasco at the long-gone maternity home located on 7th Street. She remembers being treated by a Dr. Mary when she was young. The hospital used to be located across the street from the current library.

Also, she attended Bakersfield College and always wanted to be a teacher. She began working as an instructional aide at Maple School and was planning on continuing her education.

While her intention was to work part time and continue her education, instead, she began teaching full time and never looked back.

Sanford volunteers at Maple School twice a week, teaching art in transitional kindergarten through eighth grade.

She and her husband worked on props for the pageants over the years.

She is a spring 2018 retiree and said, "I bowed out this year. I needed to lay low."

Sanford loves Wasco and has only lived in three houses on the same block in her lifetime.

"John and I met when he was a senior at Shafter High," she said. "I needed to work for the summer, so I got a job at Jack in the Box in Lost Hills. He was working there as well. We married in the 1980s and have one child, Jami."

John passed in 2013.

"You don't realize how that one person can affect others until they are gone," she said. "People still come up to me and talk about John." She mentioned that these comments have led her to reflect on life in general.

Additionally, she said that she created the decorations – ice cream sundaes on the walls – for last year's Wine & Roses Evening. She has also created several murals at Wasco schools (Pruitt, Palm Avenue, Thomas Jefferson, and Wasco High), as well as Maple School and schools in Buttonwillow.

"I love getting paid to color," Sanford said. She is passionate about all things art.

"I have no secrets; I'm an open book."

She is humbled to be named the featured artist for the 2019 Wine & Roses event and the Wasco Festival.

During her retirement, she would like to visit all 50 states. "I already have 30 down," Sanford said.

Attendees of the Wine & Roses event will be able to experience her artistic abilities, with something for everyone, she promises.


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