Beer flows, necks crane and Artistic Expressions touch the sky at Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas .
Centennial Hills muralist Grize’l Herhold is the mastermind behind faux-finish painting business Artistic Expressions and artist of the popular Bavarian destination’s vast, vaulted canopy that Herhold hand painted in 2003 .
At more than 15,000 square feet wide and 50 feet tall at points, the ceilings of Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, 4510 Paradise Road , are the 59-year-old artist’s veritable Sistine Chapel .
“I was up there having a blast,” she said. “It was like being up with the angels.”
Herhold was commissioned to embellish the ceilings of the Beer Hall and Beer Garden with authenticity akin to the inside of Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas’ Munich, Germany , counterpart. It took her about three weeks on a boom lift to complete, sometimes with her image projector as her only light source.
The images have wowed patrons, restaurant officials say, and the clouds in the Beer Garden have fooled some patrons into thinking they were outside, Herhold said.
Hidden messages of love to her family and thanks to God for her talents are etched in what Herhold describes as her biggest canvas.
Herhold matches her self-taught skills with a self-assurance.
“I was an established artist at birth,” she said.
As a student, Herhold clashed with art teachers because she didn’t want to copy their techniques, she said. She created waves in her high school when she painted a 35-foot-wide mural of God handing Adam cotton candy for a candy fundraiser. She refused conventional art school, she said.
Her confidence almost put her family in danger in their native Cuba.
At age 5, Herhold, the daughter of a Cuban newsman, was in a group of children who met communist leader Fidel Castro for a photo opportunity, she said.
“I took the opportunity to tell him, ‘We don’t like it here and we’re moving,’ ” she said. “I’m a strong spirit. I’m not afraid to speak my mind.”
Her parents feared the repercussions of her actions and decided to leave in 1962 . Herhold and her sister were separated from their parents at the airport and lived with a relative in Miami for two months.
“As soon as I was put on that Pan Am flight, I grew up,” she said. “I had talent in me to keep me strong. (My family) didn’t leave our motherland for nothing. Their decision wasn’t wasted.”
Herhold was raised in California and moved to Las Vegas in her mid-20s. She was a designer at the Nevada National Security Site for 11 years. She met her husband, Jeffrey, at the test site, and he encouraged her to follow her artistic ambitions.
He helped create her business, Artistic Expressions , and now Herhold exclusively paints.
Herhold deals in mixed media and uses an image projector as a guide and creates her own stencils for repetitive prints.
“It’s basically a very simple process, but she’s very dedicated to it,” said Fred Stadler, director of Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas. “We haven’t had to do any touch-ups or anything. It’s quality work she did, and we were happy then and we’re happy now.”
Stadler said he fields comments from patrons who have visited Hofbräu, Munich , and marvel over the two destinations’ similarities.
“That was the purpose for doing it,” he said.
Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas was her largest commercial project, but Herhold books many residential commissions, she said.
She has created murals in nurseries and made drab walls look like authentic Tuscan scenes. She has embellished fireplaces to look like they were swathed in old leather. She has made light pink-hued cabinets appear as if they were built from aged mahogany, she said.
Fellow Centennial Hills resident Angie Stepp sought Herhold’s skills to re-create memories so she and her husband could always remember a trip to Africa.
“When we came back, our room became an African sanctuary room, and I wanted to keep the theme,” she said.
Herhold painted a scene of an elephant in a forest with a waterfall.
“It creates a very serene feeling,” she said.
Herhold relies on word of mouth for many of her faux painting jobs. Otherwise, Herhold makes a statement in another way she advertises, she said.
Stepp discovered Herhold driving her commanding 23-foot-long Chevrolet Kodiak truck with her contact information emblazoned in a rear window.
“With that kind of truck for advertising, I figured she must be a big deal,” Stepp said.
Not lacking in confidence, Herhold said she looks forward to new challenges.
“It keeps me going,” she said. “I’m going to paint until I die.”
For more information, visit fauxbia.com or call 658-8363 .
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-3839.