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Art by local student to be featured on Wells Avenue banners

By Jeri Chadwell

Reno City Council member Oscar Delgado was joined Wednesday by members of the Wells Avenue Merchants and Property Owners Association (WAMPA) and Jonah Dees for the unveiling of art to be displayed on banners along Wells Avenue.

The banners will be along Wells Avenue following the Fiesta on Wells, a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in northern Nevada, set for Sunday, Sept. 19.

Dees, a senior at Reno High School, creates digital artwork. His design for the banners was selected from dozens of entries.  

Michelle Moore, a WAMPA board member said, “Today marks a dream of over two years of getting banners on the street that give us an idea of the vibrancy and the soul of the street and reflects how Wells Avenue is in general, and all the residents who call Wells Avenue home.”

WAMPA is a group of business owners that serve as volunteer representatives for the more than 200 small businesses in the Wells Avenue district. [Disclosure: This Is Reno is a member.] 

The group assists with street beautification, events held in the Wells District and relations with the Reno City Council.

“The Merchants Association ran a contest for art to be featured on our banners, and many of the pieces were beautiful—but this one was resoundingly unanimous. The artist chose to reflect the beauty, the history and the vibrancy of the Wells Avenue district perfectly,” Moore said.

The 50 banners were funded by donations from businesses on the street and discretionary funds from Delgado. Moore said the Merchants Association also intends to commission the creation of additional banners in the future with seasonal and holiday themes, but Dees’ banners will remain up indefinitely.

Dees thanked the Merchants Association for the opportunity to have his art featured along the street.

“I’m really happy everyone likes it,” he said. “I think it expresses what this street is all about. And I’d like to thank my art teacher, Nicole Bommarito, as well. It was a great opportunity, so thank you.”

Dees explained that he came up with the design by walking along Wells Avenue and taking photographs. His design features the sculpture at the roundabout on the south end of the avenue, its street lights and the Virgil—which used to be the location of Reno’s Little Flower Church.

Dees said he intends to pursue art as a career when he graduates from high school in the spring. He’s uncertain where he’ll go to school at this time, but the University of Nevada, Reno, is an option. He’s also applied to schools in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Delgado also thanked the Merchants Association and Dees. He said Wells Avenue holds a special value for him because his father and older brother both owned businesses on the street whose residents he now represents on the city council.

“It’s about quality of life and, especially during this time, supporting our local businesses,” he said. “And, again, we’re beautifying. So, please, come out and visit… Continue to be safe… Wear your masks. Get vaccinated. Respect everyone.” 

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