A couple of weeks ago, a Facebook friend sent me a private message and told me she didn’t like the Art Spot Reno logo. She said the graphics lacked “art sophistication.”
My comment to her was: “…We’re about art, but not limited to art sophistication because that’s not what Reno is about. Reno’s art scene is both sophistication and the gritty, grassroots.”
We wanted a logo that was fun and welcoming. It started with the “A,” which is three strokes with a paintbrush.
Some say it resembles the anarchist “A,” others say it’s the Star Trek symbol.
I say ‘cool, whatever resonates with you is fine with me.’
Author Nina Gurianova created the term ‘aesthetics of anarchy,” or making art without rules, to define an early twentieth century period of the Russian avant-garde that she argues was a big influencer for early twentieth century modernists.
While there are many artists in Reno who are imitative, predictable and safe, some are listening to that voice within and going their own way. (And there are a few who just seem to be on another planet — that place where no one has traveled before.)
Although I might sometimes mumble an occasional ‘oy vey,’ it still gets the “A” stamp as art.
Make art without rules.
It is my honor to bestow the Art Spot “A” to photographer Kelci McIntosh, whose unsanitized photographs of downtown Reno recently landed on the VICE magazine website.
I went to the website, read the few paragraphs she wrote, describing Reno as “a Glitter Gulch” and “the original Sin City,” and then examined the 25 photos.
She captured a realistic slice of Reno life inside the casinos, along the Truckee River, and at what could be any of the many weekly motels – the downtown neighborhood.
Two days after the photos went live, she wrote on her Facebook page “I have already started to receive hate mail!” and posted one from someone who’s lived here for 20 years and said “You didn’t tell the whole story. Yes. You could visit any town in America and focus on the their (cq) poorest citizenry.” The person then listed a litany of places and events that Kelci missed, such as the Nevada Museum of Art, Arte Italia, Reno Balloon Races, and the Rib Cook-Off.
I don’t think the complainer looked carefully at the photos or they would have noticed that Kelci did shoot Hot August Nights. Remember the backside of the obese woman directing traffic? (I think that’s my favorite.)
Kelci also captured a typical, summer day along the Reno Riverwalk. The one of young people sunbathing on the rocks, with that blonde beauty — bruised legs crossed, twirling a lock and seemingly fine with the fact she’s neglected to do those sit ups.
Bravo Kelci! You accomplished with your photographs what I’ve attempted for years through my articles and thesis in History, and that is to provide a voice to unnoticed and underserved populations.
In the Reno Gazette-Journal article, Abbi Whitaker, owner and president of The Abbi Agency, complained that Kelci took a “dig at vulnerable people.”
That’s not how I see it at all. I think she shined the light on Reno’s invisible. There’s a big difference.
One of the speeches I love to deliver when invited to speak to groups on race and ethnicity in Nevada is titled “The Not-So-Sweet Home of Nevada.” Kelci’s photos show the not-so-sweet side of Reno. It’s a side that cannot be ignored or swept under the sage brush. It’s a part of Reno and its gritty history.
So Kelci, I hope you’re not swayed by the grouches out there and become predictable and safe. I hope you continue to make art without rules. I’m looking forward to seeing other views of paradise through your lens.