Downtown Reno beautification project comes to life with new landscaping and mural by nationally recognized artist Brad Carney

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Brad Carney will lead 300 community volunteers and local artists June 7 – 11, 2021 in painting a 15,000 square-foot mural in the heart of Reno, Nevada

“This bright and vibrant 15,000 square foot ground mural will allow participants to discover joy in downtown Reno. Family and friends will be greeted by colorful interpretations of Reno’s landscape.

Reno was selected as one of 16 city projects in the first year of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Asphalt Art Initiative. Bloomberg’s award, coupled with an additional Nevada Main Street grant, allowed the Downtown Reno Partnership, City of Reno, and local landscape and engineering firms to collaborate on a beautification project a decade in the making.Artist Brad Carney was selected to design a mural and lead 300 community volunteers to turn 15,000 square feet of bare concrete into a programmable art plaza just as the city reopens after a year of COVID lockdowns.

The Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor, or ReTRAC, was completed in 2005. The project lowered 2.25 miles of railroad tracks below the city streets. In the heart of downtown, two concrete “lids” cover the tracks. The City of Reno originally planned to turn them into green spaces, but the recession killed those plans, leaving behind a drab concrete slab and undeveloped dirt. But with the leadership of the Downtown Reno Partnership, Reno’s first business improvement district, new plans for activating the block-long space are being realized.

“This has been a beautification project in the making for over two years,” said Alex Stettinski, Executive Director of the Downtown Reno Partnership. “We are proud this is coming to fruition in partnership with the City of Reno at a time when placemaking is crucial to help ignite traffic and vibrancy in our downtowns.”

Nevada Landscaping Association and Stantec donated landscape architecture designs, while the City of Reno’s Arts & Culture Commission Public Arts Committee chose an artist out of 25 applications. Brad Carney was selected based on his style and experience.

“The mural design for the ReTRAC represents the beauty and spirit of Reno,” Brad Carney said. “This bright and vibrant 15,000 square foot ground mural will allow participants to discover joy in downtown Reno. Family and friends will be greeted by colorful interpretations of Reno’s landscape. Throughout the design, participants can walk the abstract rail path, or stroll the perimeter on a stripe pattern that takes you all the way around. The front entrance area begins with the rail path and images of local sagebrush. Mountain ranges give way to a raging river of blue beneath the stars, before squeezing through the rear section to form an oval and give way to the sun. The design was intended to be played with, staged, and transformed into whatever large-scale event or intimate setting.”

The mural features images and motifs specific to Reno:

The state flower Sagebrush is used in two areas, large drawings as you enter, and a pattern at the far end.
Mountain ranges in sunrise and sunset, and colors sourced from local photographs by artist Megan Berner.
A snowflake design reflects the Reno Arch.
The far left design was inspired by the flag of Reno.
Abstract drawings became a pathway throughout the mural, much like a railway line.
There are 21 colors in the mural.
The mural is 15,000 square feet, but will have two coats.....so technically the artists are painting 30,000 square feet.
There will be 200 gallons of paint to create the mural.
The mural may take between 60 - 100 hours to create.
Carney will employ local artists to lead the volunteers

Brad Carney creates public and private works of art in a collaborative spirit for individual clients and community-based experiences. His personal aesthetic emphasizes rhythm, motion, and a playfulness using line, color and composition. Each project is an opportunity to create powerful human connections, he said. Recent projects have been inspired by abstract interpretations of sound and movement in our environment, neighborhood architectural transition, and cultural identity of communities. The works reflect our history, discuss our present and reimagine a future together.

The City of Reno’s Public Works department will begin work on the landscape design at the end of April and complete it by July 1. The Arts & Culture Commission will assemble teams of local artists who will lead community members in painting the mural. Carney will lead the teams the week of June 7.

About the Downtown Reno Partnership
As Downtown Reno’s newly created business improvement district, the Downtown Reno Partnership is leading a new spirit of cooperation among property owners, businesses, residents and the community by providing a range of services designed to retain, expand and attract businesses and investments to improve Reno’s urban core. The district encompasses some 120 city blocks and includes private and publicly owned properties where new services are financed by a self-imposed and self-governed property assessment to make Downtown Reno cleaner, safer and more vibrant.

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Michael Higdon
Downtown Reno Partnership
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