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Student makes mural of Japanese densho garden in downtown Caldwell

"We wanted to do something big something that was going to be in Caldwell permanently," the Caldwell High School senior said.

CALDWELL, Idaho — When a high school student decided to create a mural of a traditional Japanese garden near the Indian Creek Plaza for her senior project, she had no idea the painting would take on such personal meaning. 

Meadow Kildow's senior project was to bring "Freak Alley" to Caldwell and she first got the idea before the start of her senior year thanks in part to her mom.

"A beautiful piece of art is a wonderful contribution to Caldwell, I feel," she said. "We wanted to do something big something that was going to be in Caldwell permanently."

After talking it over with her mom, Meadow soon found an empty canvas to work on, the back of the Caxton Printers Building. But it came with a catch - she had to take care of the dead tree back there. A small price to pay to bring life to the back of the cinderblock building.

"It really matched where we put the mural, it's the Japanese densho garden, and I wanted the painting to be respectful," Meadow said.

The densho garden was built in downtown Caldwell in 2012 and was meant to honor the generations of Japanese-Americans who settled in the city.

While she loves art, Meadow doesn't consider herself an artist. But thanks to the help of her friends and family, even her grandmother, she was able to complete the mural in 59 hours, twice what was required for her senior project.

In the mural, there is a typical geisha that turns into water with koi fish swimming in it, a bonsai, some irises and a cherry blossom tree.

Under the tree, however, lies something more personal.

"The hydrangeas are the biggest part to me," she explained.

They are a reminder of her cousin, Gauge Edwards, who had a double lung transplant four years ago but died last March from cystic fibrosis.

"He was very much like a brother to me always went to him for help, he was one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met," she said.

Guage was 18 when he passed away, Meadow said, and he was proud of his Japanese heritage and loved introducing his Japanese grandmother.

"I think permanent reminder in Caldwell is beautiful to me, makes me so happy to see that and remember that's a big part of the reason I did it," she said.

Densho is the Japanese word for legacy, fitting for what Meadow left on the once-bare cinderblock building.

"I want them to see the effort and just the beauty of it something that someone put their time into to create for other people to look at," she said. "It's something someone put their heart into and I think that's beautiful."

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