Salinas begins in role as Carson City Arts and Culture Coordinator
Mark Salinas awoke in his new home recently to find a tree felled by high winds and eight deer roaming his yard.
A typical autumn day in Carson City.
“It was an eye opener,” said Salinas, who arrived here in September from Queens, N.Y., to become Carson City’s first arts and culture coordinator.
Salinas’ job was created when the Carson City Arts and Culture Master Plan was approved by the Board of Supervisors in March with the goal of building a thriving arts and culture scene for residents and tourists alike.
Since he started, Salinas has been meeting with artists, gallery owners, theater directors, arts organizations and others to get to know the community.
“I’m trying to absorb and listen to their needs,” said Salinas. “I am basically taking an inventory.”
He sees one of his roles as helping to organize the city’s diverse arts entities and facilitating collaboration between them.
The Carson City Visitors Bureau, the city’s arts and culture program home, and the Nevada Arts Council held a public meeting on the arts in October, where people talked about what they wanted to see.
“People want to revitalize empty spaces. They want to attract a larger audience. And they want the community to communicate better amongst ourselves,” said Salinas.
Another role for the coordinator is updating the city’s policies and procedures for public art, which Salinas is already working on with the district attorney’s office.
And, of course, to write grants to help fund Carson City arts and culture.
Salinas said he’s already working on applications for four grants, due early next year, which he’ll talk about at the upcoming Carson City Cultural Commission meeting on Dec. 20.
Salinas has experience in grant writing and more as well as being a working artist.
He left behind a nonprofit he founded in New York called 7trainmurals, a group of volunteers who paint murals in vacant locations along the 7 commuter train in Queens and Manhattan.
He closed up shop on his business there, Arrows Up, a concept and design company that specialized in exhibition displays and marketing strategies. His clients included Nike, Chanel and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his work included costuming for holiday window displays in Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue and other department stores.
Salinas attended Parsons School of Design in New York and worked for five fashion seasons as a pattern maker for Zac Posen, a fashion designer who has also served as a judge for the last five years on the TV show, Project Runway.
His own art work involves textiles. A latch hook rug he made in tribute to his grandfather, who made rugs, too, hangs in his office here.
There’s also a beard and wig costume Salinas made from hessian, or burlap, he found on the grounds of the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland, where he spent three months working on branding and labeling for the Scotch whiskey maker.
Despite a few surprises, like high winds and wandering wildlife, the transition from east to west and big to smaller has been easy.
“If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question — I was born in a small town in Ohio and went to school in St. Louis, Missouri,” he said. “It feels like a great fit. And the community has given me a very warm welcome.”