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Two artists copy Michelangelo masterpiece

by Linda Hiller

Who says you can’t view classical art around here?

In downtown Gardnerville, two artists have been laboring into the wee hours nightly on a reproduction of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.”

The original fresco painting of this work is on the vault ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome.

“It feels like a great responsibility, painting a work by Michelangelo,” said one of the reproduction’s painters, Greg Drinkwine. “I have always wanted to do this work and when I showed it to Jim, we both decided it would be an exciting project.”

“I feel guilty, because I get to paint standing up and Michelangelo had to paint the whole thing on his back,” said the other muralist, Jim Cox, owner of Blue Moon Designs Gallery where the painting is being done.

The 10-foot tall by 15-foot wide mural shows God, surrounded by angels, reaching to a reclining Adam. The two artists have divided their efforts, with Drinkwine painting God and the angels on the right side of the mural and Cox doing Adam on the left side.

“I think our styles work well together,” Drinkwine said. “When we’re through, Jim is going to frame the whole thing right on the wall – it will be impressive.”

Blue Moon Designs Gallery opened in April, and Cox has already knocked out a wall to make room for more exhibits. It is on a wall in the new room that the mural is being done.

n Both lifetime doodlers. Drinkwine and Cox have worked on the project every day from late morning to the early hours of the next day. It will take around two weeks to complete, they estimate.

Drinkwine, 38, is a classically-trained artist, having studied at the Art Students League of New York, where Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock and Georgia O’Keeffe, among others, trained. Drinkwine also studied painting for one year in France.

Cox, 44, is a self-taught artist and said that sharing a project with an artist like Drinkwine is a rare and satisfying opportunity.

Both said they have been doodling all their lives and felt drawn to the world of creating art. They agreed that while working on this artwork, at times they’ve each paused to marvel that at one time around 500 years ago, Michelangelo stood and stared at a similar kneecap or a lock of hair, wondering how best to capture it.

“This is why we feel a sense of responsibility,” Cox said. “We also hope it shows people that there are exciting things happening in the art world right here in the Carson Valley, and that – with us – they’ll get excited about the prospect.”

n You’re invited. The grand opening celebration for the gallery is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 10.

In addition to the official unveiling of the mural, Cox said new art will be on display Friday, including work by popular artist Dale Terbush and Kuwait watercolorist Fred Wilcox, who will be on hand.

Wine and hors d’ oeuvres will be served and music by Russel Ketenjian will be provided. The public is invited to attend.

A contribution box will be set up for anyone who would like to make a donation toward the medical expenses of Karen Zaninovich, an artist and photographer whose work is on display at the gallery. Zaninovich, who has no health insurance, has been hospitalized with a heart virus.

Blue Moon Designs Gallery is located at 1411 Highway 395 in Gardnerville, and open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The grand opening celebration will take place Friday, Sept. 10, from 4 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 783-0050.