Maranje selected as artist for Elizabethton mural project

Published 2:30 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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After a lengthy process that involved completing steps for both Request for Proposals (RFP) and Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from interested artists, the City in partnership with the Main Street Design Committee, has chosen Ernesto Maranje as the artist to complete the mural project for Elizabethton.

City Council gave their seal of approval during the September Council meeting on Thursday.

This project came about as a result of the City being awarded $12,200 from the Rural Arts Project Support grant from the TN Arts Commission. The Main Street Design Committee has spearheaded the effort to make the mural a reality.

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The project location is adjacent to a city-owned public parking lot which provides access to the central downtown district and is located directly across from the Elizabethton Carter County Public Library. The artwork budget, including design, installation, and all other costs associated will be the amount of the grant, $12,200. The address of the mural will be 109 South Sycamore Street B and will face East E Street and will encompass 800 square feet (16’ x 50’).

Once completed, the mural will allow a large number of community members and visitors to view it on a daily basis. The building is home to four (4) businesses, one of which is a new outdoor store, Hellbender Outfitters. The combination of the building (including an outdoor store) and the location (adjacent to a public parking lot and the Public Library) provides the perfect backdrop for the local community and tourists to enjoy the artwork year after year.

The mural project supports many City and Main Street goals, such as increasing public art in the downtown district, providing an avenue for artists to display their work and inspire others, highlighting the natural environment that makes up the fabric of the local community, and adding vibrancy to an area with tons of potential.

During the selection process, it was important for the committee to select an individual with great talent and experience in murals.

According to his online biography, Maranje is a Cuban-American artist born in Chicago, Ill., in 1983 and raised in Miami, Fla. He discovered his interest in art at 27 while serving in the Coast Guard.

Maranje’s work explores flora and fauna, biological evolution, and plant and animal relationships. He renders these ideas with acrylic and spray paint on large-scale murals and canvas.

He has painted murals at home and abroad, including countries like Ukraine, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece and Spain while he has also worked on many public art projects with cities, arts and cultural divisions, non-profits and NGOs. His canvas work has been shown in solo and group shows in the U.S. and overseas.

To meet the grant’s deadline, Maranje must have the work completed by May 15, 2024.

“We are so excited to work with Maranje for downtown’s first professional mural! The selection committee was impressed with his artistic talent, extensive mural experience, focus on natural resources, and passion for working with local communities. We cannot wait to elevate and grow the Main Street district with Maranje’s vibrant and detailed mural art,” said Courtney Bean, Main Street Elizabethton Director.