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Monumental mural: Nevada Theatre muralists receive Dr. Leland and Sally Lewis Award

The Union staff
Nevada Theatre mural artists, from left, Brianna French, Sarah Coleman, and Miles Toland, have been awarded the Dr. Leland and Sally Lewis Award for Visual Arts. A ceremony originally planned for late January has been postponed tentatively to June of this year.
Photo: Elias Funez

Nevada Theatre mural artists Sarah Coleman, Miles Toland, and Brianna French have been awarded the Dr. Leland and Sally Lewis Award for Visual Arts by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

The annual awards honors businesses, organizations, and individuals who have made significant contributions to the Nevada City community through their time, actions, talents and dedication.

Those selected serve as a role model for compassion and service and are constantly striving to make the world a better place.



Sally and Dr. Leland Lewis retired to Nevada City from Bakersfield in 1963 and Sally was a charter member of the Nevada City Liberal Arts Commission formed to save the Nevada Theatre from demolition.

The theater’s 100th anniversary in 1965 was celebrated with a locally produced play titled “Golden Days” as well as a gala dinner and a ball to establish the building fund that would lead to the preservation of the theater.



The lower level of the Nevada Theatre’s murals are complete. Mural artist Sarah Coleman will now extend the mural up into the balcony in the coming months.
Photo: Courtesy Akim Aginsky

An awards ceremony to honor the muralists initially slated for January of this year has been pushed back tentatively to June.

Meanwhile, detail work on the mural continues to be fine tuned by the mural’s lead artist Sarah Coleman, who says she will extend the mural up into the balcony over the next few months.

Nevada Theatre mural artsit Sarah Coleman shows off the Serena Cole portrait of Lola Montez now on display in the Theatre’s lobby.
Photo: Elias Funez

“It will complete the project and feel finished,” Coleman said. “Beyond that I have a few local projects coming up.”

Coleman plans to work with California Heritage Indigenous Research Projects’ Visibility Through Art program this year, and currently has some work in the Forest//Fire multimedia and educational show up at the Truckee Recreational Center.

The design on the back wall of the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City.
Photo: Elias Funez

Toland, who was tasked with painting the 40-foot high ceilings of the theater, and is known for his large mural on the side of downtown Grass Valley’s Everhart Hotel, is working on a show slated to open May 14 at the Ryan Joseph Gallery in Denver, Colorado.

Toland spent many hours above scaffolding and at times laying down to paint, much like the Sistine Chapel painter Michelangelo.

Amanda Ashley of Miss Moth Design uses her gold leaf painting techniques to help spruce up the foyer of the Nevada Theatre.
Photo: Elias Funez

Work to the Nevada Theatre’s lobby also continues to be spruced up with the help of Amanda Ashley of Miss Moth Design.

Painted portraits of some of the Theatre’s more notable performers, including Lola Montez by Serena Cole, as well as one of Mark Twain done by Pam Hodges, are displayed prominently in the theater’s lobby.

The nearly completed interior murals of the Nevada Theatre.
Photo: Courtesy Akim Aginsky
A detail of the Nevada Theatre mural.
Photo: Courtesy Akim Aginsky

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