North Lake Tahoe Bonanza cartoonist wins Reno mural contest |

North Lake Tahoe Bonanza cartoonist wins Reno mural contest

Bonanza cartoonist Rex Norman stands in front of his winning mural.
Courtesy photo |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Seven artists competed in a grueling 24-hour Mural Marathon Sunday and Monday at the Circus Circus Reno, hosted in conjunction with Artown.

There were cash prizes for first ($2,000), second ($1,000) and third place ($500). First place went to Rex Norman, with his mural of the Strong Man.

Norman — who works under the pen name “Killbuck” and has been a longtime cartoonist for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun — said the record heat in Reno Sunday didn’t make things easy.

“On Sunday morning at 10 a.m., when we all started, it was already seriously hot,” Norman said. “Some of us had to use gloves to handle ladders and scaffolds. It was too hot to start applying paint, so I decided to spend the morning hours lining out the design. Shortly after noon, the building gave us shade and we all got off to a good pace.”

Once temperatures topped 100 degrees, Norman said he and the other artists had to take extra care.

“Most of the work was done during the dark hours, though it was still hot and humid,” he said. “A couple of the artists worked straight through the 24 hours. I took a couple breaks, and did the hand brush painting from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m.”

Second place went to Rafael Lopez and his mural, “Jump.” Third place went to Joe C. Rock for his tribute to the Biggest Little City.

“I don’t think any of the artists had ever attempted a mural that size in so short a time,” Norman said. “The size of each wall panel is almost 20 feet wide and just under 15 feet high. ‘Marathon’ was definitely the right word.”

Pan Pantoja, Alex Fleiner, Heather Jones and Mike Lucido were the other artists. A portion of Virginia Street was closed for the event, which was a 24-hour show open to any and all viewers.

All murals will remain on display on the Circus Circus building for an entire year, until the second annual competition in July 2015, according to the hotel/casino.

“This will be a welcoming message to all who travel south on Virginia Street and a permanent art installation, which will benefit the community and beautify the downtown area,” hotel representatives said in a news release. “The artists did not disappoint … they each created amazing works of art that offer a tremendous variety and amazing art installations for the side of the building,”

The winners were selected by judges David Walker, CEO of the Nevada Museum of Art; Eric Brooks, Galleries at Work Administrator Sierra Arts Foundation and curator for Art Spot Reno; Maria Partridge, Artist Advocate at Burning Man; Dave Aiazzi, Chairman of Artown; and Paul Baker Prindle, Director of University Galleries at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Visit to learn more about the contest and Circus Circus Reno.

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