By Parker Flickinger
Like many people, I watched Sesame Street as a toddler. Surprisingly, my favorite segment of Sesame Street did not involve any muppets or human characters, such as Luis and Maria. It was a live action piece, where children from a city all took part in painting a mural. What struck me was how the kids had a positive attitude towards each other and were all taking an active part in a community project. Little did I know, later in life I would have the honor and privilege to promote and paint a community mural myself.
“Ah yes, the friendliness and creativity of children,” laughs painter Edwin Martinez-Escobar as I tell him my story. Edwin and I have met up and are admiring his murals on the McCarran tunnel. “I had my own inspirations growing up.”
Lahontan Audubon Society was first informed of the McCarran Mural project by our Development Coordinator, Jennie Jones Scherbinski. Our Board was interested in supporting this project, as it offered us a chance to collaborate with Washoe County Parks and entice people to bird at Rancho San Rafael. The murals were drawn by local painter, Edwin Martinez-Escobar. The south side of the tunnel highlights some of the bird species of our region, including a great-horned owl and mountain bluebird. “I always enjoyed finding the owls hanging out at Evans Creek, so I had to include it in the mural,” says Edwin.
I stand back admiring the detailed work Edwin has done on the owl. “Speaking of childhood,” Edwin says, “When I was a boy, I would find drawings of plants and animals in my family's encyclopedia and copy them. That is how I got my start with nature drawing.”
Edwin continues “There is an overarching theme in these murals. Each of the four panels represents one of the different seasons.” After Edwin explained this to me, I could see the season reflected in the mural, such as the snowy mountain background behind the mountain bluebird.
Edwin then points out the painting of our state with the slogan “Home Means Nevada.” “This was key to my mural. I was born and raised in Reno. I wanted to capture the feeling of our community and home.” Edwin didn’t just capture the community, he let the community take part in the mural with a dog photo contest. Dog owners had submitted photos of their pets at play in the Rancho San Rafael Dog Park. Gus-Gus the English bulldog and Teddy the long-haired dachshund are some of the winners now featured in the mural.
Edwin brings up my Sesame Street analogy. “Like that show, I am all about getting people back to their roots with my art. My goals are to have my public art lift people’s spirits and bring them to that place of creativity and positivity so often seen in our children.” I truly appreciate Edwin’s ethics, and I hope that more people will be able to enjoy his mural and feel his soulful musings through his brush strokes.
The South-end Tunnel Murals are finished and open to the public inside of Rancho San Rafael Park. Edwin is seeking donors and sponsors for the murals on the north end of the tunnel. If you would like to donate to the north murals or see a concept picture, visit Edwin’s GoFundMe page. If you know of a business or other organization, which would be interested in sponsoring the north murals, feel free to contact the Rancho San Rafael Park Ranger. To see more of Edwin’s paintings and murals, please visit his instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/martinezesco/