Art students create colorful mural in local sushi restaurant

April 15, 2011 | Arts, UToday
By Samantha Pixler

Benardo Diaz painted the Godzilla invading downtown Toledo on the back wall of the Spicy Tuna Sushi Bar and Grill.

Benardo Diaz painted the Godzilla invading downtown Toledo on the back wall of the Spicy Tuna Sushi Bar and Grill.

When the owners of the Spicy Tuna Sushi Bar and Grill approached the Art Department at The University of Toledo, they wanted to cover their eatery’s walls with paintings of Godzilla, ninjas, samurais and geishas.

It was the University’s art students who turned that idea into a vibrant work of art incorporating those Japanese icons into a downtown Toledo landscape.

Nishiki Tayui, UT visiting professor of art, told her students about the opportunity, and freshman Emily Junga was interested from the start. She called the restaurant owner Li Yu and showed him her portfolio, which impressed him enough to hire her on the spot.

“The experience can really help your portfolio if you wish to pursue a career in art. I really enjoyed painting a mural so big, and the bright colors used make it so much fun to look at,” said Junga, who recruited fellow student Benardo Diaz to help with the task.

While painting the infamous fire-breathing Godzilla on the back wall of the restaurant, Diaz had the idea to paint in buildings of downtown. From there, the mural was filled with a giant squid attacking the Fifth Third Center, a TARTA bus racing away from the destruction, a view of the Veterans’ Glass City Skyway bridge, UFOs shooting lasers down on the city, and tanks trying to defend the city from the destructive monsters.

“The students did an excellent job with the mural,” Yu said. “It brings so much added fun and excitement into Spicy Tuna.”

“I feel that it is important for students who have artistic abilities to be involved in the community and showcase their work,” Junga said. “In an economy where it is hard to find jobs in one’s college major, students need to showcase their abilities wherever they can.”

Art students Robert Morrison and Tristan Worstell were added to help finish the graffiti mural before the restaurant, located 7130 Airport Highway in Holland, opened Dec. 27.

The artists finished the back wall of the restaurant in two and a half months. The students continue to work on finishing the other walls.

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