Carson City mural features historical Nevada figures
There’s a striking blue mural being painted on the south wall of C-A-L Ranch on North Carson St.
It depicts five familiar faces, staring at those who order Happy Meals from the McDonald’s across the way.
Those waiting in line shout praise to the artist standing on the man lift, filling in details with spray paint while listening to his favorite playlist.
It’s technically a free art show for the public, but for Erik Burke, it’s a normal day.
“Coming from Reno, there’s only so many murals in Carson City,” he said. “But this one is pretty important to me.”
Faded into a blend on the facial portraits are the words, “Home Means Nevada.” Just in time for Nevada Day, Burke is about to complete a mural representing six historical figures who put an impact on the state. His goal is to finish the mural by Tuesday or Wednesday.
“It’s the who’s who of Nevada history,” he said. “There are many possibilities, but it’s nice to paint the faces of those who were larger than life in this area.”
From left of the mural, the faces include Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight-boxing champion, who won the Fight of the Century in Reno in 1910. Then Bertha Raffetto, who wrote Nevada’s state song in 1932; Abraham Curry, the founder of Carson City; Sarah Winnemucca, the first Native American woman to publish an autobiography; Kit Carson, the American frontiersman who the city was named after; and Julia Bulette, one of the first independent women in business in the area during the mid-1800s.
The idea and design originated from Burke, with the help of Cassidy Management Group.
“Sometimes when you search for a significant person, you only find one image of them,” he said. “No matter how famous you are, you’re going to be forgotten in a few generations ahead. It’s nice to put these faces on public spots as a reminder.”
Although Burke, a native of Reno, has been spray painting since he was 18, his career in murals didn’t begin until 2004. Since then, he’s painted murals across the country, and in small towns in Italy, Norway, South Korea and Switzerland.
Many of Reno’s recognizable murals are also Burke’s creation, such as the portrait downtown on E. Commercial Row, and the sidewall on the former Maytan Music Center.
It’s a time consuming job, he said, but when he has a chance to take a small break from his passion, he’s spending time with his wife, Meryl, and their one year old daughter, McCamman.
Burke travels often as he brings a colorful quality of life to certain areas of a city. But one thing he enjoys about Carson City is the people who take the time to stop by and observe his masterpiece in process.
“This is really beautiful,” said a woman who walked by.
“Thank you,” he said. “But I bet you can do stuff that I can’t do.”