New Arts Director Says Big Things Ahead in Carson City

Apr 6, 2018

Carson City is investing more in the arts. In March, the city welcomed its first Arts and Culture Director. Our reporter Holly Hutchings talked to the new director, Mark Salinas about his role and the future of arts and culture in the Capital city.

Inside the Mind of daVinci, a sculpture by local artist Mischell Riley, rests at the Community Center in Carson City.

Before moving to Carson City, Mark Salinas lived 19 years in New York City, running a business and operating his nonprofit mural organization. An artist himself, he realized in that time that what he was making gave him a better return on his investment when he worked with the community. Salinas has the chance to invest in a new community now as the first Arts and Culture Director for Carson City. Salinas moved to northern Nevada to fill the position just over a year ago, when it was part of the culture and tourism department. Now it’s a city position and Salinas is the city’s first director.

Mark Salinas, Carson City's first arts & culture director. Photo courtesy of Mark Salinas.

He lived in the same apartment the whole time he lived in Queens and encountered the same people each day as he grabbed his daily coffee or stopped by the neighborhood store. Now living in Carson City, he says he feels that same community relationship in his new town. He hopes to combine what he knows of arts and community-building to the arts and culture scene in Carson City.

“I’ve sold pieces before,” Salinas said. “But you don’t get the same smile on your face as when you touch the community in a way that their civic pride elevates and that they want to continue doing that for someone else.”

One of the “home runs” Salinas and his team have been able to hit since he’s been here is the acquisition of the sculpture, Inside the Mind of daVinci by Carson artist, Mischell “Phoenix” Riley. The massive head of the iconic artist once lay on the grass at UNR but now has a permanent home at the Community Center in Carson City.

Inside the Mind of daVinci installation at the Carson City Community Center. Photo courtesy of Mark Salinas.

The next item on the director’s agenda is a month of events related to a Big Read grant they recently won from the National Endowment for the Arts. Thirty days of programming related to the novel, True Grit by Charles Portis will run May 3 through June 5 in conjunction with the grant. Salinas is encouraging artists from across the state to also participate in a contest using canceled playing cards from four Carson casinos. Winners will be chosen by the casinos who donated cards and displayed throughout the month. The kickoff for the Big Read Grant events will be May 3 at the Bristlecone Gallery of Western Nevada College. The public is encouraged to attend.