Mural work underway on back wall of Hellbenders

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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A fox has been spotted in downtown Elizabethton as it tries to dodge the raindrops that have fallen in the past few days.

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Though not a living creature, area residents are eagerly watching as mural artist Ernesto Maranje begins to add his touches to a mural located on the back wall of downtown business Hellbenders, situated directly across the street from the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

This project stemmed from the City being awarded $12,200 from the Rural Arts Project Support grant from the TN Arts Commission, which is funding the endeavor.

Maranje, a Cuban-American artist born in Chicago, Ill., in 1983 and raised in Miami, Fla., discovered his passion for art at 27 while serving in the Coast Guard. His work delves into flora and fauna, biological evolution, and plant and animal relationships, portrayed through acrylic and spray paint on large-scale murals and canvas.

Having painted murals both domestically and internationally, including countries like Ukraine, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, and Spain, Maranje has also contributed to numerous public art projects with cities, arts and cultural divisions, non-profits, and NGOs. His canvas work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and overseas.

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

The public is encouraged to visit and witness as the mural begins to take shape.

Upon arriving at the location last Friday, adverse weather conditions slowed progress on the project for Maranje.

“We had about five hours of work on the background and another three hours on the fox,” Maranje said Wednesday afternoon. “The rain hopefully will move out soon, and we will get some sunny weather.”

The artist had to utilize a leaf blower to ensure that the completed work would remain dry in case of rain showers.