A third and final mural, depicting a hand holding a yellow rose with a hummingbird hovering nearby is nearing completion and will finalize the three-sided building’s master plan for brightening its small corner of the world.
“We wanted to liven up the building and brighten up the area – add color and beauty,” said Mike Fiannaca, co-owner of the family owned Sparks Florist, the company that owns the building. “It’s simple but it’s fun.”
Switlik, renowned for his massive murals and use of bold, vibrant colors has painted two sides of the building thus far. He estimates the third mural will be finished within the next few weeks.
The family that owns the Sparks Florist realized from the beginning that Switlik’s work would create something the whole community could enjoy, Fiannaca said.
If more businesses would aspire to create artistic work on their bildings, Finnaca said it might help Sparks as a community.
“It would be great if more people would do it,” he said.
A muralist for the past 27 years, Switlik has previously worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phoenix suns and the Grand Sierra Resort. His work is also on display as Ryrics Art and Home Gallery as well as the Wildflower Art Gallery.
Each mural takes Switlik some 160 to 180 hours to finish. He ensures the works will last by finishing them off with an ultraviolet coating to protect the painting for years from the heat and sun, he said.
“I use the Nova color,” Switlik said. “It’s great outdoor paint for murals.”
Nova color is top-quality paint suitable for use on canvas, paper, fabric, wood, plaster, masonry, indoor and exterior, and other surfaces.
Switlik, who lives in Sparks, shows some of his art at a gallery on 4th Street in Reno, but he does mural work all over the country, he said.
The concept of the latest mural was to beautify the building and do it with flowers. The artist depicted a hand holding a yellow rose with a hummingbird feeding off the blossom.
“The flowers and the hummingbird are closely tied to the environment a little bit,” Switlik said.
Switlik went to school at Pittsburg State University in Kansas City, where he earned a Fine Arts degree. He didn’t intend to become a painter at first, but “I took one art course and switched majors,” he said.
He grew up in a small coal mining community near the university.
Switlik’s mentor was Thomas Hart Benton who taught him how to “paint big.”
His first painting covered one wall of a burger joint “It’s kind of comical” when he thinks back about it, he said. The mural depicted a seashore, boats and a beach landscape.
“I see it and say, look at that kid, he had an affinity and perspective for murals,” Switlik said.
Now, some three decades later, Switlik has been all over the county painting all kinds of buildings and walls.
The Sparks Florist’s building is 40 years old. Each art panel was painted by Switik following his hiring by the family.
The original Pyramid Towers Building construction was completed in 1974, about the same time Sparks Florist opened its doors. At that time, the building was the tallest in the city. It remained the tallest until the first tower of John Ascuaga’s Nugget was built in 1982.
Sparks Florist owns two retail locations, one in Sparks and one in Reno, and a design center off Rock Blvd., in Sparks.