Jarrod R. Kohls
A nearly two-year effort to further beautify the building that plays home to Peter’s Steakhouse in Isleton, was completed Saturday. The final pane of the 24-foot handmade panoramic stained glass mural was installed above the front door of the restaurant facing Highway 160.
The efforts of long time Isleton resident Frank Russell resulted in a fantastic visual rendering of the Delta’s rich cultural heritage.
Russell, and his wife Shirley have a long-standing connection in Isleton where they contributed to the local economy and general community for many years. Having constructed the Delta Daze Inn with local contractor and developer Bob Giles and participating in the development of the city’s famed Crawdad Festival, the Russell’s sought to bridge the blaring cultural gap between Chinatown and New Town.
By owning the property next to Pineapple Restaurant, Russell was able to develop a great friendship and a powerful admiration of the Low family and their unyielding work ethic.
“They are a super hardworking family that are dedicated to the idea of the American dream,” said Russell. “Throughout the years, good and bad, the Low’s kept their goal in sight. By working “26 hour” days, they achieved their pinnacle of success with Peter’s Steakhouse.”
As a token of his admiration, Russell devoted the last 18 months to creating his masterpiece, which he has bestowed upon the Low family as he completed each beautiful handcrafted panel.
The stained glass artwork that graces entrance of the restaurant was a culmination of what Russell and his wife Shirley have observed through the tenure of their residence of the delightful Delta community.
“[The mural] was an effort to display the struggles of one ethnic group as a labor of thanks to the Chinese and the town of Isleton,” said Russell. “I saw this as a golden opportunity to tell their story with my art.”
Depicting scenes that celebrate the rich agricultural history of the area, the more recent establishment of festivals and restaurants and the struggles of early Chinese immigrants – Russell successfully encapsulated over 100 years of Isleton culture with his mural.
With help from volunteers Dave and Mike Chess, Walt Lewis, Brian Maynard and Tom Brooks, the final panel was successfully installed and Russell’s “Labor of thanks” was complete.
As those who participated in the installation process sat in the lobby of Peter’s Steakhouse and enjoyed coffee with each other, it was clear that Russell was satisfied with every minute that he devoted to the project.
“Doesn’t that look great?” Russell asked each of those in attendance; to which he received a handshake and a fervent reassurance that he did a masterful job.
“A major part of our Delta system has been built on the backs of our Chinese neighbors,” explained the artist. “Say what you want, but we wouldn’t be enjoying our paradise without them.”