Riley Nester removing tape. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Riley Nester removing tape. Photo by Robert Eliason.

A champagne reception was held at Crave Wine Bar & Shop on Feb. 28 to celebrate the completion of a mural depicting a vineyard silhouetted against a mountain range. Guests including Hollister Mayor Mia Casey, Grillin & Chillin Alehouse owner Chuck Frowein and Mad Pursuit co-owner Alex DeLeon were treated to a slow reveal of the painting as artist Riley Nester peeled away strips of masking tape he had used to define the intricately drawn vines. 

A resident of Hollister, Nester was joined in this delicate process by a handful of spectators, including Crave owners Mike Kohne and Maura Cooper, as well as Nester’s parents, Scott and Chris Nester.

“I love the way he made it,” Cooper said. “And the reveal was so cool because it felt like a community vibe where everyone came together to participate and peel off the tape and uncover what he’s been working on. It was exactly what we had envisioned it to be and Riley couldn’t have been more spot-on.”

Nester, 24, started taking his artwork seriously after graduating from high school, most notably by becoming part of a worldwide network of artists collaborating on sticker packs, long strings of decorated Priority Mail stickers that artists add to, then share with someone else who continues the process.

He began making murals during a stay in Arizona. His first was a 9-foot by 13-foot piece for State 48 Brewery in Surprise, Arizona. He then moved on to painting the offices of a loan company.

“When I returned to Hollister, I started hanging out at Mad Pursuit,” he said. “I really wanted to start painting again, so I talked to Alex DeLeon and got set up doing a full mural for him with the brewery logo and all the names of the founding members, including my parents.”

It took him about 60 hours, with the time split between painting the logo and writing out the names in an old English typeface. 

“I was amazed he did all the names freehand,” said DeLeon. “That gives it a lot more character. Having the names so large was his idea, but it worked and he did a great job. He wants to do the whole interior of our building and we look forward to seeing what he comes up with.”  

The idea for the Crave mural took shape as Kohne and Cooper decided how to decorate a large section of a blank wall inside the entrance to the shop. Nester was in the shop one day and Kohne saw a drawing he was working on: an image of Nester and DeLeon as characters in “Pulp Fiction.”

“We started talking based on that,” Kohne said. “He showed us some of his other works and we asked him if he would be willing to do something here. We had a meeting the next day with Maura to go over options and just brainstorm. We have a lot of black in our cabinetry and shelving and I asked him, ‘What about that thing you did with you and Alex?’ That sort of silhouette look turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.”  

Nester began the work by painting the mountains and sky. He then covered the wall with six rolls of blue masking tape on which he drew the vineyard, then cut out the parts he wanted to paint, essentially creating a giant stencil. Black spray paint completed the job, leaving only the removal of the remaining tape to uncover the work. 

“The hardest part is just having the patience and not rushing myself,” he said. “I have to trust the process, follow each step and not go right to the wall and start cutting. I know if I cut corners, you are going to see it in the end. It was also hard to do all of this in a way that did not disrupt their business.”

The process went on through the night, fueled by the occasional glass of wine. In the end, Kohne and Cooper were very satisfied with the results.

“We are very happy it’s up,” Kohne said. “We are all about wine and wine is art. We don’t have a big beautiful vineyard that you can enjoy, so this is the next best thing. It really does give you a sense of place and it is an excellent representation of our local history. We are happy to have found Riley and he has really completed this space.” 


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