ELKO – A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Elko’s newest mural, the first in the Elko Mural Expo series, says many things to many people.
A young girl in Basque costume peers downward from a high wall. The photorealistic mural appealed to those who stood by watching the painting process this week. Some saw the literal picture, but others possibly gleaned other messages of innocence and heritage.
“Elko is a city with a rich cultural history, but very little public art,” Eric Brooks, owner of Art Spot Reno, said. “The inaugural Elko Mural Expo will brighten and revitalize areas of town, washing walls with color and positive messaging.”
Brooks approached the city and Catherine Wines, chair of the city’s Arts and Culture Advisory Board, about doing a mural festival in Elko.
Brooks and his business partner, Geralda Miller, orchestrated the Reno Mural Expo last year and felt it was such a success they wanted to branch out and reach into rural Nevada.
“I feel like I just need to pinch myself,” Wines said about the project.
The expo, scheduled for next September, will bring about 20 muralists to town during a concentrated period.
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“This festival will bring artists using a diverse array of styles of mural art, including abstract, photo realistic, illustrative, graffiti, paintbrush, airbrush, roller brush, wheat paste and stencil,” Brooks said.
The event will also include art lectures, a film screening, workshops, docent-led mural tours and musical entertainment at venues in town.
The mural of a Basque girl is located on the east-facing wall of Ogi Deli. Deli owners Annamaria and Mikel Lopategui donated the wall space and paid for the paint for the kickoff mural. They are also hosting a paella feed starting at 4:30 p.m. today, Oct. 18. All proceeds will go to support next year’s expo.
“I am so excited to see this downtown,” Michele Wines, an Ogi Deli employee and Mikel’s aunt, said. “This will really help the downtown.”
Erik Burke has been working on the deli mural for most of this week. Burke, who lives in Reno, has created murals all over the U.S. and in such far-flung places as Brazil, Spain, Italy Norway, Canada and South Korea.
“It has transitioned into an official full-time job over the last four or five years,” Burke said. “There is nothing I like more than getting to know about a place, meet interesting people and distill this into an image that represents or means something to that place.”
“This is the tenth year for the arts and culture board,” Catherine Wines said. “Sometimes it has been such a struggle to promote public art and now these super cool guys from Reno called us and said, ‘Do you want to do this?”’
Catherine Wines, Burke and Brooks have spent this past week scoping out potential architectural canvases for next year’s murals. Business owners who are interested in having a mural painted on their building should call either Brooks or Catherine Wines. Owners will be partnered with an artist who will collaborate and design a unique image that works.
“We plan on doing 27 murals,” Brooks said.