Feather River College students from the visual arts program earned honors at the FRC Art Show on May 11 in Quincy. They also surprised popular muralist and FRC art instructor Rafael Blanco, center front, with an original mural banner to wish him farewell when he leaves this summer to head a painting and drawing program at Elmhurst College in Chicago. Photo by Roni Java

FRC art show honors students and bids farewell to acclaimed muralist Rafael Blanco

Five Feather River College students won top honors May 11 in Quincy when the FRC Visual Arts department held its student exhibition in the Art Barn at the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds.

With stunning displays of work in many mediums, talent was in abundance at the show that continued through May 19.

The exhibition featured the work of Lance Barker, Sarah Marie Chapin, Judi M. Davis, Kayle Englund, Lisa A. Huston, Jasmine LaCasta, America Little, Katherine Stafford, Zoe Terrazas, Sandi Trenner and Josiah Whitesinger.

Prizes for expressiveness, creativity, experimentation and exploration in their work went to honorees Whitesinger, LaCasta, Chapin, Stafford and Englund.

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The show was juried by visiting artist Megan Berner, MFA, from the University of Iowa who currently serves as the public art coordinator for the city of Reno.

“I’m really impressed and congratulate you all for the work you have put up here today,” Berner said. “You should be proud. It takes courage to make art.”

Following the awards, the students surprised their beloved FRC instructor and acclaimed muralist Rafael Blanco with a farewell mural-in-miniature banner they had painted.

Blanco is noted for his mural celebrating Plumas Arts in downtown Quincy and a railroad-themed series surrounding the Old Town Portola Event Center, among other impressive works.

He leaves FRC this summer after five years at the college. Blanco is headed to Elmhurst College in Chicago, a private four-year university with 3,500 students where he will oversee painting and drawing classes.

“I didn’t see this coming!” Blanco exclaimed as his students gathered around to say their farewells with words, hugs and art.

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The painter took the opportunity to advise his class about the importance of continuing to make art even when they face rejection, an inevitable part of the creative process and life in general.

“It’s important to be a loser,” Blanco said as the crowd chuckled. “I consider myself one. I come from a culture where many kids would lose, so it was normal from the beginning.”

Every year, he said, he applies to over 100 mural contests and he is selected for one or two.

“As an artist, you get rejected and have to embrace it,” Blanco told his students. “The times when I lost helped me to become better.”

He emphasized the importance on not taking it personally when one’s art is not chosen in a competition.

“I don’t cry. Well, not every time!” Blanco said and laughter echoed in the Art Barn. “I’m used to learning from it [the experience]. So work harder and you will be successful.”

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He thanked the group for helping him in many ways over the last few years and for setting up the show.

“I’m really going to miss you all,” Blanco said, “but I’m leaving you in very good hands.”

Follow his projects online at www.rafael-blanco.com.