Sam Torres and Shannon Rasmussen
Artists Rick and Rachel Betz
Program: Youth in Arts Italian Street Painting Festival
Sam Torres and Shannon Rasmussen came to our Youth in Arts Italian Street Painting Festival in 2009 on their second date where they shared their first kiss. So this year, Sam contacted us and asked us to help make a very special wedding proposal happen.
Sam sponsored a small Festival square, but Youth in Arts upgraded him up to a larger 6′ by 8′ square size and found two wonderful street painters, Rick Betz and his daughter Rachel, to create an adaptation of a Rafael Olbinski painting that looked a little bit like Shannon. Rick also reversed the painting’s composition, so the woman’s left hand would be in view and Rileystreet Art Supply—a Festival Sponsor—donated some special art supplies to create a sparkly diamond on her finger.
Throughout the weekend, Rick and Rachel worked on the painting with Shannon’s name covered, so that all visitors could see was “…Will You Marry Me?” Sam wanted to keep the name a secret, since Shannon works for the city of San Rafael and often pops by the Festival more than once during the weekend.
Sam brought Shannon to the Festival Sunday afternoon, after the painting was completed, and tipped off staff that the “big moment” had arrived. A crowd began to gather near the square and a murmur went through the crowd as they rounded the corner and Sam brought Shannon to the edge of the square. The full title was unveiled, “Shannon, Will You Marry Me?” and Sam got down on one knee with a ring at the ready. Shannon said “Yes, of course!” They kissed, and the entire crowd burst into applause. Youth in Arts brought over complimentary champagne bellinis for the happy couple and the artists. Later Sam and Shannon were recognized on the main stage with another burst of applause. They will be married July 2, 2011.
Streetpainter Rick Betz described how he and Rachel poured over images for the square before settling on the Oblinski piece.
My daughter and I share a love for art and it meant a lot to both of us to do this square together…The attention the square received over the course of the long weekend was unlike anything we’d ever experienced at the Festival. It wasn’t long before it seemed that everyone was in on the secret, and Rachel and I couldn’t keep the smiles off our faces. The proposal, of course, was the highlight and we had a front row seat, basking in the love and joy. We wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
Rick and Rachel are not the only streetpainters in the Betz Family. Judy Betz, Rick’s wife, actually completed two other squares with her other daughter and son. According to Judy:
It is a family affair! The event always brings us together as a family but this year was particularly special, because of the added bonus of Sam asking his girlfriend to marry him in front of “our” square. Rachel is such a romantic, and an emerging artist, so we couldn’t have been any happier as her parents, than for her to have this truly unique experience.