Using his artistic flair, Summerlin-area resident Jamal Norris gave thanks to the city of Henderson for his 15-year employment.
The Las Vegas native, 33, was selected from a pool of applicants to design a mural for the teen lounge at Whitney Ranch Recreation Center, 1575 Galleria Drive, in June.
“(Norris) was chosen for his artistry and his vision,” said city of Henderson spokeswoman Kim Becker. “His concept for the mural truly captures the energy and joy of being a teen. It’s contemporary and hip.”
As a teenager, Norris moved to Henderson with his parents and graduated from Basic High School, 400 Palo Verde Drive.
“I started working with the city around the time I moved there,” Norris said. “One of my first jobs was working with the special events department.”
After the city’s special events and cultural arts departments consolidated, Norris began painting backdrops for plays and musicians performing at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway.
“I was almost like the resident artist for the city,” Norris said. “I did any artwork for any event. I created backdrops, built parade floats and painted murals. That was kind of my forte.”
After recently accepting a new job in the Centennial Hills area, Norris visited old co-workers and was informed about the mural opportunity.
“They told me it was pro bono, and I could come up with the whole design,” Norris said. “I thought, ‘Well, the city gave me my first job, so this would be my way of thanking them.’ ”
Combining ideas from his childhood, Norris created a digital draft including video games, music and sports.
“I have nephews that are all teenagers, so I also asked them what they like these days,” Norris said. “They gave me ideas, and I just took that and ran with it.”
Over the course of about six weekends, Norris transferred the draft to the 10-foot-by-19-foot wall. He proved his talent by making free-hand adjustments to accommodate four block windows and a fire alarm box.
“I’ve been an artist since the day I was born,” Norris said. “I took some art classes in college, but it was never my focus. This is all natural talent. It was a God-given gift.”
Before the mural was painted, the lounge had four stark white walls that failed to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, Becker said.
“The mural changed all of that because it is the focal point,” she said. “It is the first thing that draws the eye when you walk into the room. The color and energy seem to pop.”
The lounge was created around 2008 to provide teens with activities, such as arts and crafts, video game tournaments and movies.
“The concept for the lounge was to give them a special place to socialize and take part in some structured activities,” Becker said. “We’ve found that giving them a place of their own also gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility. They are less likely to engage in unwanted behaviors and more likely to act responsibly.”
Access to the lounge is free; however, teens must be enrolled by an adult and have a city participant ID card, which costs $5 each year.
The Whitney Ranch Recreation Center is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
For more information, call Norris at 702-350-0373 or the recreation center at 702-267-5850.
Contact Henderson View reporter at Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.