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Mural starts on Panaderia la Michoacana

Art in public places campaign continues
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Downtown Lincoln, specifically F Street between Fifth and Sixth, is getting more colorful and cultural with the addition of a mural on the side of the Panaderia la Michoacana building.

The mural, part of the Art in Public Places campaign, a collaboration between the city of Lincoln and the Art League of Lincoln, is being painted by Rafael Blanco. A four-year resident of Quincy, Blanco painted the Shirley Russell “No Parking” mural in Sandwich Alley last summer.

“It was special for me to be there with her while I was painting her,” Blanco said. “I met the store owners last year and they wanted a mural. They’ve been very helpful from the beginning. It’s a nice place.”

Blanco, a Feather River College art teacher, is spending part of his summer break painting another mural in downtown Lincoln.

“This is my second week of vacation. Last week, I was still grading,” Blanco said June 4.”The approximate timeline for completion of the mural is two weeks.”

The mural has a Mexican theme: three panels – green, white, red, the colors of the Mexican flag – with three main figures overlapping; a mariachi on the red panel, two dancers on the white and green panels; and a charro on the green panel.

Blanco also has murals in Quincy, Live Oak, Portola and Reno.

“The theme depends on the sponsor,” Blanco said. “You adapt the design to what they want. On my own, I would paint more artistically. In general I would approach the mural with more colors and a more artistic design.

“I like to paint realistically, I like portraits,” Blanco added. “I like to be a little more free to play with colors but I am happy to be paid to paint.”

Blanco grew up in Spain and came to the United State at the age of 19 on a tennis scholarship to St. Mary’s College. After graduating, he returned to Spain before coming back to the United States to complete a master’s in fine arts at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Gonzalo Alejandre, Panaderia La Michoacana owner, said he likes the mural’s “beautiful design.”

“I’m really proud to have the mural on the side of the building,” Alejandre said. “I think the customers will like it. There’s a lot of hard things going on now, a lot of bad news, and this is something people like.”

Jean Cross, the Art League of Lincoln’s creative director and president, said Blanco was invited to paint the mural on the side of the panaderia based on his work on the Russell mural.

“He is such a delight to work with,” Cross said. “We chose the market because it is so visible and we are working to draw more people downtown. This mural adds more color downtown and celebrates the Latino heritage in our community.”

“We’re working diligently to create a welcoming environment in the plaza, the heart of downtown Lincoln,” Cross added. “The music, the lights in the trees are all designed to create a more welcoming environment.”

Cross said the Art League of Lincoln is looking for more mural locations and artists to paint them. Potential locations for future murals, Cross said, include the general area of the ATT building, located at 566 F St., the side of the Adams building facing Lincoln Boulevard, and Sandwich Alley. Mural panels in the alley would be four-feet by eight-feet.

“The purpose of the panel (dimensions) is to make the site feasible,” Cross said. “Not everyone wants to paint the side of a building.”

Cross said the campaign would like to include more artists and “a heavier consideration of Lincoln concepts that reflect the town’s heritage and history.”

“We haven’t formally begun the next phase but we are accepting designs and concepts as we go,” Cross said. “We like suggestions.”

Cross said artists and building owners interested in participating in the Art in Public Places campaign can contact her at jcross@all4art.net. Donations and sponsors are also welcome.

“Donations can be made through the Art League of Lincoln specifically for Art in Public Places,” Cross said.

Lincoln City Manager Matt Brower said the art projects are valuable to the residents and “we are already beginning to brainstorm what a next phase of the Art in Public Places program might look like.”

“We are eagerly anticipating Rafael Blanco’s contribution to the artistic landscape of Lincoln, especially as it celebrates the vibrant Mexican-American community within our city,” Brower said. “These murals are a source of civic pride and not only enhance the beauty of our downtown but highlight both the heritage of the Lincoln area and the talent of contemporary artists within our region.”