Nicholas Danger McPherson

Bright Colors and Brews

Pints in the Pines Beer and Art Festival brings together mural artists to decorate the mountain town of Idyllwild while raising funds for Living Free Sanctuary.

Julie Pendray Arts & Entertainment, Current Digital

Nicholas Danger McPherson

Nicholas “Danger” McPherson will lead a team of artists Aug. 20 at the Pints in the Pines Beer and Art Festival in Idyllwild.

A trip up the mountain to Idyllwild has become more than a way to escape the heat of the desert. It’s tapping into this evolving artistic town, which has undergone some changes since the pandemic.

“With so many people realizing they can work remotely, we have droves of young professionals and families moving to our community, which was previously made up almost entirely of retirement-aged folks. It’s been a bit of a culture shift for both sides,” says Amy Miller-Hawley, one of the organizers of the second annual Pints in the Pines, a beer and art festival set for Aug. 20 at Mile Hi Plaza next to Idyllwild Gardens.

While the event allows visitors a chance to nosh on food truck offerings like Jamaican-African fusion, Italian, Mexican, American “tailgate” and more, sip some brews, people watch, and peruse vendor booths showcasing books, boutique and handmade items, your eyes will be drawn to the display of eye-catching murals in the center of town. The often whimsical pieces are increasingly part of expanding art scene, says Miller-Hawley, who owns Wild Idy, a gift store and vacation rental business on North Circle.

Hawley, 37, originally from Nuevo in unincorporated Riverside county, attended summer school on the mountain in her youth. In 2016, she held a temporary job in Idyllwild, related to general contracting project management, and her family fell in love with the place and decided to stay. “It’s hard not to,” she says. She is now an event planner and consultant.


Nicholas “Danger” McPherson is based in San Diego.

On her website, she describes herself as among “absolutely badass ladies” on the Hill (Idyllwild) and refers to her vacation cottages and gift shop as “psychedelic and playful.” Her love of art by San Diego artist Nick McPherson, known as “Nicholas Danger,” led to his work being sold in her store and eventually his murals appearing around town, including one of an early ‘90s Ford Bronco, which was in last year’s Pints in the Pines festival and the Idyllwild Fourth of July Parade.

McPherson will lead the artistic team this year, and he says the works will be “bright and fun.” “I love working in a town that embraces creativity and artists,” he says. When McPherson’s first mural went up on Wild Idy’s chimney, inspired by the Cahuilla legend of Tahquitz, it caused a big surge in customers, Hawley said.

“Public art can elevate a community’s consciousness.”
– artist Skye Walker

While Skye Walker is based in Encinitas, California, his mural work appears throughout the country.

McPherson will be joined at the festival by his friend, Skye Walker, of Encinitas, whose work can be seen across the country. Walker believes public art can elevate a community’s consciousness. “They become more aware of their surroundings, both natural and manmade,” he says. “Plus they take more pride in their community as a place that hopefully represents culture, art, diversity and connection.”

Muralists have already left their mark on buildings and fences on both sides of North Circle. This year, they will express themselves on 8-foot by 8-foot canvases and huge propane tanks across the street from the Wild Idy gift store, in case of rain. Creators include Palm Desert’s Kellie Pellegrini, who is passionate about sustainability, upcycling, and community involvement. Another is pop illustrator and designer Sara M. Lyons, who says she’s influenced by Archie comics, cult film, punk rock and skateboard graphics. She and husband Josh Grelock, who is also a musician, moved to Twentynine Palms so they could have “all the space they need to work on their art,” Lyons says. For this event, she’ll be working on a “13-foot-long astral projecting cat” to accompany a mural she did last year.


Amy Miller-Hawley says her colorful mural festival is a way to bridge the old Idyllwild with the town's growing younger population.

Hawley says she’s excited to have these people create in Idyllwild. “Nicholas Danger forever immortalized our two shop cats, Summer and Walter, into an incredible mural that spans the whole front of our fence and brings a smile to many faces,” she relates.

Local business owner Marla Sparks of Art Department art supplies store on Pine Crest Avenue is the co-organizer of the event. Hawley says, “she’s been pushing us to new heights, since she moved to Idyllwild about two years ago. We look forward to watching the festival grow and for the opportunity to bring some of California’s best and brightest artists to Idyllwild, while showcasing causes important to the community.”

Proceeds from alcohol consumed at Pints in the Pines will go to Living Free Sanctuary in Mountain Center, a privately funded program that rescues animals slated for euthanasia at other shelters, plus its associated War Horse Creek, which helps veterans transition back into regular life through equine therapy.

“As the daughter of a combat veteran, and as an all-around animal lover, I’m really excited to work with Living Free and WarHorse Creek this year,” Hawley says. “We hope to get some animals adopted, gain them some new volunteers and raise a ton of money and awareness.”

Last year’s festival raised more than $5,000 for Idyllwild non-profit Animal Rescue Friends, she says, and a dozen dogs were adopted. Tours of these facilities are available by clicking here. Pints in the Pines organizers plan to benefit a different non-profit each year.

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