Mark Salinas moved from Queens to Carson City this past fall. Since October, he’s been Carson City’s first-ever arts and culture coordinator.
This is a new position for Carson City. How’d that come about?
It’s a new position created to implement Carson City’s brand new arts and culture master plan. … It’s a 14-page document wanting to bring all our existing assets together and bring it to a new level of success.
What were you working on back in New York?
I was there for 19 years in the same apartment, in the same neighborhood in Queens, where I had a design and fabrication business, specializing in the arts and entertainment industry. I designed and fabricated retail environments, costumes and props for theater, TV, film. I also was founder of a not-for-profit mural organization, which is still in existence today in New York. I was on the community board of Western Queens and on the arts and culture commission out there.
Tell me more about the mural organization.
We just celebrated our third-year anniversary last year. 7Train Murals is an organization dedicated to beautifying vacant, vandalized public spaces in neighborhoods along the seven train that runs through Manhattan and Queens, so I would seek out landlords and tenants and community organizations that were interested in participating and coordinate a volunteer-mentored event. In three years we beautified over 9,000 square feet, bringing in state and national recognition.
Sounds like community involvement is important to you.
I think it’s an integral part of art.
What’s in the works in Carson arts right now?
My goal is to take a look at what Carson already has to offer, and take elements of that and combine it with new thoughts, new ideas. … Already I’ve put in three grants, and these grants are based upon conversations I had, just meet-and-greets with arts organizations and small businesses and not-for-profits, hearing what they would like out of the arts and culture program of Carson City in the future. A couple of them are mural collaborations, one in particular with a tattoo parlor and a local high school to make a temporary tattoo mural. Another proposal is through the NEA, and that’s the Big Read grant, and that would provide month-long community programming to engage about 45 organizations here in Carson, historical organizations, business, education, arts.
How’s the transition to Nevada going?
Everyone here has been very supportive, both professionally and personally, of me being here. I moved out here by myself, and I had a lot of organizations around the holidays wondering what I was doing, wondering if I was OK. That makes me feel at home. … This feels like an easy fit, and I like that.
Have you come across anything here that’s been surprising?
I don’t even have to think twice about that response. I’m looking at it right now, out the window, and it’s this beautiful vista. We don’t have this in New York. It’s concrete—interspersed with rats. And so, this is really beautiful. I’ve been telling a lot of my friends back in New York the air is cleaner, the rent is cheaper. I’m being facetious, but really, an environment such as this is what can really spur creative juices.