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Circus Circus was pleased to host the first annual 24-hour Mural Marathon Competition, in conjunction with Artown. Committee-selected artists submitted work to the casino/hotel for a chance to compete and display their mural art for a year, on seven panels on the east side of the casino near Topsy the clown, on Virginia Street. Eleven artists submitted portfolios and seven were chosen to compete. Six of the artists are Reno-area mural artists.
The 24-hour competition began Sunday July 13, at 10 a.m. and continued through Monday July 14, at 10 a.m.
Judges for the event included, David Walker, CEO of Nevada Museum of Arts; Eric Brooks, gallery administrator of Sierra Arts Foundation; Maria Partridge, art advocate for Burning Man; Dave Aiazzi, chairman of Artown; and Paul Prindle, director of University Galleries at University of Nevada, Reno. Three cash prizes were awarded: $2,000 dollars for first, $1,000 for second and $500 dollars for third.
Debbi Engebritson, marketing director for Circus Circus talked about coordinating the event. She said it was an interesting experience approaching the owners of resort, asking them if the artists could paint the outside of the building. She cited the owner’s willingness to “embrace the arts and culture” as the contributing factor that made this event possible.
The artists worked all night painting their masterpieces.
“I’m on two hours of sleep,” said Pan Pantoja, resident artist and participant. His assistant, Aric Shapiro, both from Reno Art Works, participated in the event. Panjota and Shapiro have been involved with many Reno-area art projects. “This is one of the first times linking the art community with big business,” said Shapiro.
Rex Norman, AKA “Killbuck,” was the first prize winner.
“Art has been proven to be one of the best community and business tools out there,” he said. His mural featured an interactive strong man, which the public can take a picture with.
The second place winner, Rafael Lopez, a native of Spain, loved the support offered from Circus Circus. The artists were given 750 dollars for materials and offered three nights stay in the hotel. Lopez’ mural, called “Jump,” featured his step kids. He said he wants to inspire people and loves the diversity he sees when he came to America.
Joe C. Rock, third-place winner, painted a tribute to Reno outside the walls of the casino, using only spray-paint. His work has been featured all over Midtown.
“This mural is really a reflection on the city we live in,” he said.
Christopher Vega, born in Madison, Tenn., is married, father of three boys and a late bloomer to education. He has 15 years of experience working with disadvantaged youth and is completing two degrees in Journalism and Art.