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Nevada Theatre mural nears completion

Nevada Theatre mural artists Sarah Coleman, bottom right, and contributor Brianna French, left, stand in front of the current progress of the mural that has been in the works for many months. It is slated to be finished by October.
Photo: Elias Funez

The scaffolding is down and a mural encompassing nearly every wall and ceiling within the Nevada Theatre is nearing completion.

When the COVID-19 restrictions closed many businesses in downtown Nevada City – including the Nevada Theatre – the theater board found a silver lining in allowing the time for muralists to get to work.

The artist behind the mural, Sarah Coleman, worked within the parameters presented to her and incorporated aspects of the community into the artwork. She used the help of a team of about a dozen local people, including Miles Toland, who painted the 40-foot ceiling featuring an over-sized moon and geometric designs inspired and used with permission from the local Nisenan tribe.



Some of Coleman’s work includes pieces on the ceiling of The Onyx Theatre, and Toland is known for his large mural on the side of the Everhart Hotel in downtown Grass Valley, among others.

Brianna French also contributed to the piece by painting gilded birds and lanterns on the main walls, and a collection of crystals and minerals in the back of the theater.



“That’s a fungi, and this is for the rock hounds,” Coleman said as she described different parts of the mural in progress earlier this week.

“Really tying to put a little something in there to think about who lives here and who is going to enjoy this place.”

A depiction of a waterfall on the Yuba River can be seen along with dreamy trees and pink clouds all done in an Art Deco style meant to complement some of the architectural features of the building.

The Nevada Theatre, at 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, was built in 1865 — the same year Abraham Lincoln was assassinated — and is California’s oldest existing theater building. Notable performers include Lotta Crabtree, Jack London, Emma Nevada, and Mark Twain.

“Sarah Coleman’s intent with this work is to showcase the innate beauty, wisdom and natural splendor of Nevada City and create an enchanting and inspiring space for the public to enjoy. It is for everyone — past, present, and future. It is all day, everyday, every season. It is a dream and a reality. It is a gift, and thank you to our community. May it help heal our wounds and bring us back together,” a press release from the artist states.

Coleman has said the mural will be finished by October, adding that there have been talks about an unveiling gala event, but nothing has been finalized.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230


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