Mark Salinas

Carson City's New Arts and Culture Coordinator

 

Art has always come naturally to Mark Salinas.

“As a kid, I was winning coloring contests left and right,” he recalled. “My elementary school art teacher was very encouraging, and she helped lead me down that path.”

Later in life — as he started his own company and founded a nonprofit mural organization in New York that got the attention of city leaders — he found he also had a knack for administration.

So when he learned that Carson City was looking to create a position for an arts and culture coordinator, it piqued his interest.

“This job presented itself as something that put all of my years of experience together in one opportunity,” he said. “I felt I could move it forward.”

Joel Dunn, executive director of the Carson City Visitors Bureau, said Salinas, who was hired in September, was the perfect fit.

“From the beginning of the process all the way through checking his references and talking to members of the New York Arts Council and members of the New York and Queens arts communities, Mark has stood out as someone who has the experience and expertise necessary for the job,” Dunn said. “His transition from being an artist to art administrator gives him a unique perspective.”

 

After graduating from St. Louis College with a sculpture degree, Salinas took a job transporting fine arts with a company in New York City.

He left that company to work for a former client and quickly worked his way into administration. But missing the creative aspect of work, he went back to school for fashion design.

“I was interested in how clothes are made,” he explained. “I’m interested in the three-dimensional aspect of building clothes.”

Mark Salinas poses with some of his artwork at the Capitol in Carson City, Nev. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. Photo by Cathleen Allison

That degree led him to London, where he worked as a tailor, then for a couple of seasons working as a pattern maker for Zac Posen.

“It was cool,” he said. “What I was making for him is what you saw on the runway in New York.”

Through that, he became intrigued with costumes, props and window designs, which was the basis for the the Arrows Up company he started.

Around the same time, he also founded 7Train Murals, a non profit mural organization dedicated to revitalizing vacant and and vandalized public spaces along the Seven Train, which gained recognition of city officials.

“We painted 9,000 square feet,. Some people had never picked up a paintbrush before, but the end result still looked professional,” he said. “People are looking for an opportunity to contribute, they just need someone to orchestrate the event.

 

This early in the job, he said, he’s meeting artists, art administrators and other community leaders to learn what is needed and wanted.

“This community has several assets that make it a fantastic place to live, work and visit,” Salinas said. “The question going forward is just how we reorganize and create a vision for the future.”

He said he is looking to cultivate all arts — visual, performing, literary, culinary

“I want to broaden our definition of what arts and culture is, as well as expanding who that is,” Salinas said. “Public art creates a higher quality of life for everyone.  It adds definition and excellence to our culture, society, and economy.  This kind of community programming is what builds us towards being a creative destination.”

He is uniquely qualified to create that vision.

“As a sculptor,” he said. “I know how to build things. I understand how things are made.”

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