Reno: It’s a Different Day

I’ve returned from my 10-day adventure in the Black Rock Desert at Burning Man. It was  exhilarating as ever, even with its sandstorms and freezing temperatures.

Once again, I had the pleasure of writing the art tour script and gave art tours to people who wanted to learn about the magnificent installations that spanned the playa. During the two-hour tour, I only was able to chat about approximately 40 of the 94 pieces that were awarded part of the $1.2 million Burning Man Arts bestowed this year. We tour guides were encouraged to make the tour our own, which meant I could emphasize some of the works that had a Reno connection. Get ready!

It was quite apropos that the first piece the art car passed was the FUNnel of Creation, which was built by Jeremy Evans and the Reno Core. With it’s brightly lit steel rods and fire poofers on top, it was a very impressive piece at night and one of my beacons to find my way back to camp. In close proximity was Pentamonium, built by Gary Gunderson in Seattle, Wash. Although it wasn’t built here, the 18-feet tall steel kinetic sculpture has a Reno connection. The Gateway Project, a coalition of nonprofits and community groups that is raising funds to bring artwork from the playa, is having a fundraiser on Oct 16. On Oct. 17, they’re celebrating the installation of Pentamonium in Idlewild Park.

Every year, a few installations become places for rituals, like weddings, and Mazu Goddess of the Empty Sea became one of those. In addition to telling the story of Mazu and highlighting its symbolic Chinese features, I told them that this temple was built at the Generator, a community art and builders space in Sparks. It was the ideal opportunity to talk about the 34,000 square feet workspace that operates on Burning Man’s 10 principles. Then we rode by David Boyer’s wind sculpture, Kinetic Forest, and I got to tell them to also walk around the arts district in downtown Reno and see his sculptures moving in the breeze.

Jeff Schaumberg and Laura Kimpton have shown us how powerful and precious words can be. This year, they planted a garden of affirmations: Dream, Be, OK, Live. This was my time to talk about all of the Burning Man art that has found a home in Reno, including our own word — Believe.

The Man is the focal point of this event, which drew approximately 70,000 people. He stood 60 feet-tall and stood on a 9-feet-tall base, which was covered with 32 hand-painted sideshow banners that were designed by Rex Norman, aka Killbuck, and painted at the Generator. At 320 linear feet, his whimsical bannerline probably set a world record.

Last year, Peter Hazel wowed us with his elegant daffodil mosaic. This year, the Verdi resident’s Manta Ray soared and glistened above the playa.

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, while Mayor Hillary Schieve delivered her state of the city address “It’s A New Day in Reno,” I had the pleasure of telling people from around the country and world the state of Reno’s arts scene. By the time they got off that art car, these participants knew Reno has a vibrant arts scene and is a major contributor to this festival’s art. I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s a new day, but I’ll definitely say it’s a different day.

 

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

 

Provided by RGJ.

FUNnel of Creation

Taken by Geralda Miller,

Manta Ray by Peter Hazel

Killbuck and his Bannerline

Taken by Wobsarazzi.

Mazu Goddess of the Empty Sea

Taken from Gateway Project.

Pentamonium by Gary Gunderson

Photo taken by Larry DiVicenzi

Mazu Goddess of the Empty Sea

Get off the Streets and Into the Alleys

I remember sitting in the back seat of a station wagon at 10-years-old when the car slightly slowed and my mother turned around in her seat and pointed out the window, “Look, it’s a mural.”

We were driving south on Interstate 5 and I can still see those figures floating above me on the side of the freeway. Since then, I have enjoyed murals — true public art — all over the world. Some of my favorites were on giant abandoned buildings in rural Poland, painted specifically to cater to the railways on which thousands commuted daily. Murals everywhere — Berlin, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Milwaukee and yes, Reno.

Reno is the Berlin of Nevada.

The first mural I saw here was a praying Native American on the back side of what was once Club Bass, located next door to the Reno Bike Project. The alley now has several murals with more on the way. The murals of Reno are spectacular and Art Spot Reno is incredibly excited to launch a self-guided mural tour on artspotreno.com.

The city is being slowly, but surely, covered in art and Midtown is a great place to begin your immersion. Two key names to look for are Erik Burke (OverUnder) and Joe C. Rock. They are the most prolific muralists in town, and it’s fascinating as you take the tour, to see their growth over the years. One clue to trace Burke’s advancement, the number after “OverUnder” is the age he was when the mural was painted.

This summer is going to be a full on art attack! That reminds me, Bryce Chisholm has a fantastic piece on the west side of Nevada Fine Arts. It’s one of the best walls in our city. Bryce also will be one of the seven artists competing in the 2nd annual Circus Circus Mural Marathon. This year, it is expanding into an art experience, with vendors setting up in the street and lots of interactive family fun.

Summer is here and it’s the perfect time to explore and discover the hidden gems dotted throughout our city. Use our Google map and roam on your own or sign up for a guided tour with a docent who has all the secrets.

Eric Brooks, Curator

Eric Brooks, Curator

Now to Move From Good to Great

I’m the type of person who has difficulty celebrating my birthday. Instead, it’s a time for introspection, and I ask myself lots of questions. Am I living my life to the fullest? Am I where I want to be in my life? And if not, why. They’re the kind of questions that can motivate or stifle. For me, they’ve been motivators.

As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of re-launching this website and coordinating the Art Walk, I have to ask similar questions. Is Art Spot where we want it to be? Have we successfully marketed Art Spot, continuing to reach more Reno residents? Are we doing all we can through the business to help build a community that embraces the arts? And if not, why.

When my business partner (Eric Brooks) and I started, our goal was to support businesses that support the arts. But we soon found out that we not only had to support businesses, we also had to support the artists. We designed a funky flag for businesses to hang. We built a super website that has an artist registry and a calendar, so everyone knows where to go and what to do in the arts.

In my evaluation of our first year, I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job. More businesses want local art on their walls and more artists are showing  and SELLING their work. But I’m the over achiever and a “C” grade never was acceptable. So, that means we’ve got work to do to make sure there isn’t an empty seat in theaters, visual artists have ample avenues to show their work, and more Reno residents engage in the arts scene. I truly believe in our slogan — More Art Everywhere — and want more people in our city to realize that.

I’m going to do everything I can to get an “A” in art!

 

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Let’s Walk the Walk

How time flies.

Last February, my business partner and I held our first of three dry runs for Art Walk Reno before our official launch in May. Eric Brooks and I were surprised how many people ventured out in the cold and said they had a good time. We knew we were on to something that would be beneficial for local artists and the downtown businesses that wanted to show art.

As long as I’ve lived here, I’ve always liked the idea of first Thursdays at the Nevada Museum of Art, but work obligations kept me from frequenting that well-attended event. I would drive by close to the 7 p.m. closing and regret not attending. For others, as myself, who weren’t able to escape their desks in time, but wanted to enjoy an evening downtown experiencing art, we thought an art walk through the Arts District would be the perfect extension to that cornerstone event. It worked.

Starting our event at Liberty Fine Art Gallery allows people to check out what’s happening at the museum and then walk around downtown, grab a bite and see more art. Let’s face it. Who’s ready to go home at 7 p.m.?

The venues showing art stretch a mile, from Sierra Arts Gallery and Metro Gallery in City Hall on Virginia Street to the east and McKinley Arts and Culture Center at Vine Street and Riverside Drive to the west. If you check out all 17 stops on the art walk, not only will you see good local art, you’ll get the extra benefit of a good workout that satisfies many of your New Year’s resolutions.

For that reason, and the fact that February is American Heart Month , we’ve partnered with Saint Mary’s Center for Health and Fitness for Walk for Art and Your Heart! challenge. The first 50 people who want to participate in the Walk for Art and Your Heart! challenge will receive a free pedometer. And if you already own a pedometer or use a Fitbit, that’s perfect, you, too, can participate in the challenge. Check in at Liberty Fine Art Gallery and we’ll log you in.

Why do this? Oh let me count the reasons! You get to see great art. You’ll get a great workout in and not feel guilty when you eat that slice of pizza at Noble Pie Parlor at the end of the walk. You get to be just a little bit competitive and try to walk the most steps and win great prizes. Now that I think more about this, Eric and I will walk the route beforehand and post the number of steps we walked on Facebook, so you have a number to beat. How’s that? You also get to challenge yourself and keep on walking throughout the month and try to log the most steps walked for even more prizes.

And for the rest of you who aren’t reward driven, I think the most important reason to participate is for a healthy heart. I will walk in memory of my mother, who died six years ago from heart disease.

I’m grateful to Saint Mary’s Center for Health and Fitness for working with us on this. What a great way to start our second year of fun strolls in downtown Reno! We’re setting the bar higher for ourselves. It’s a good thing we’re going to be in great shape to keep leaping!

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

 

 

Enjoy the holidays and give local art

It’s the season to be jolly.

With all the last-minute shopping and holiday gatherings to go to, who has time to sit down and read a long blog? I barely have time to read my emails! I won’t make this a habit, but I’m going to keep this one short.

It’s that time of the year when we express our gratitude to those who are meaningful in our lives. Someone on Facebook recently asked where they should go to buy something, preferable local. I say it’s a wonderful opportunity to give local art, and I mean all genres. Here are a few of my suggestions.

A painting, photograph, piece of sculpture are wonderful ways to enhance any room and allow someone to enjoy their surroundings. We’re lucky that the number of art galleries and alternative gallery spaces in Reno is growing. But don’t stop there. Handmade ceramics and pottery are pieces you know someone got their hands very dirty making and put a lot of love into that form. I encourage you to visit our Art Spot members to see a variety of these artistic styles.

This city has several fine theater companies. I saw exceptional performances this year at Reno Little Theater, Bruka, Good Luck Macbeth, and Nevada Repertory Company. Why not introduce someone to the stage with the gift of individual  or season tickets? The same is true for our music scene. Thanks in particular to the university and casinos, we’re also fortunate to have a pool of very talented musicians here. So give tickets to hear the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, the Reno Chamber Orchestra or Reno Jazz Orchestra.

I’ve been thinking about what gift Art Spot Reno can give. Our gift will continue to be to provide information, collaboration and inspiration about the Reno arts scene. Not only with this blog, but our calendar will continue to be the most comprehensive site for what’s happening in Reno. That’s a promise! The true joy of this holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you. I’m filled with gratitude for those in the community who are supporting us. I’m also very grateful for what we at Art Spot Reno have been allowed to share with you.

Happy Holidays!!

 

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

It’s Time To Build Reno as an Arts Destination

During my years working as a consultant in Ghana, West Africa, I learned about the Adinkra symbols used by the Akan tribe. One of my favorites is Sankofa, the image of a mythical bird whose body is facing forward while its head is looking backward. It means: we must look back to move forward. Like a bird, I must keep moving ahead but, every now and then, take a look back to make sure I’m on course and ensure a strong future.

Like the Akan tribe, Sankofa also is a positive message for community. It’s especially important for Reno, now that we’ve have a new mayor and two (and soon to be a third) new City Council members. For most people I’ve talked to, voting for Hillary Schieve was a vote against the status quo and the good ol’ boy system. It was a vote for a fresh mindset to keep moving the city ahead. The Reno public is the necessary institutional knowledge that will help make sure they stay on course and ensure a strong future.

I’m sure members of various civic groups already have been busy lobbying their causes. The arts community must do the same. Art Spot Reno’s message is: “Reno is poised to be a culturally vibrant city and a true arts destination. Artists bring income into our city and can improve the performance of local businesses. As an arts destination, our city will be filled with creative types and have an innovative environment that will lure more creative companies like Tesla.” I encourage everyone who loves Reno’s arts scene to deliver a similar message to city officials and letters to the editor. Make that your 30-second pitch!

In a previous blog, I wrote about a lecture delivered by Paul Baker Prindle, who is director of Sheppard Contemporary and University Galleries. He said we need to do more to create the conditions for creativity and the Department of Art and University Galleries is poised to play an integral part in helping Reno do that. Well Paul, it’s time! Let’s get busy! Let’s build a team comprised of the area’s creative minds and help develop Reno’s creative ecosystem. (P.S…Leave a message if you want to be part of this team.)

Let’s look back to move forward, Reno, and become a creative center where there will more possibilities for growth than we can imagine!

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

Reno: Building a hotbed of creativity

A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture delivered by Paul Baker Prindle, director of Sheppard Contemporary and University Galleries. It was the title that lured me: Burning Inquiry. Burning Man Art: Turning Reno into an arts destination.”

I must admit I was skeptical. How could someone who’s only lived in Reno for a year and only spent a few hours at Burning Man to go on a special art tour be able to speak with authority on this topic? I’ve lived in Reno eleven years and have been to Burning Man seven consecutive years, spending 12 days out there the last two burns, and I sometimes wonder if I’m qualified to write about Burning Man. But Prindle successfully weaved Burning Man ideology, his academic research on implementing strategies for developing arts economies with his personal experience, having lived in cities that have remade themselves into creative centers. He delivered a thought-provoking talk for seventy-three minutes that many who filled the auditorium are still talking about.

Let’s play!

I’ll never forget the first time I went to Burning Man in 2008 and saw the throngs of people and the city lit at night. I kept thinking that people must have had this unquenchable thirst for a creative outlet that they were unable to fulfill in their daily lives. Prindle identified play and creativity not only as important elements at Burning Man, but as essential for building a more creative, engaged arts economy. He said, “Play is good for us, no play is not good for us.” Using Burning Man census data, he informed us that more than 40 percent of those going to the Black Rock Desert to play have a Bachelor’s degree and more than 23 percent reported having a graduate degree. These are the creative types that Prindle argued are exactly what Reno needs to build economic health. “I would argue that the collaborative nature, novel combinations of forms and aesthetics, and creative temporary domiciles built on the playa indicate that many Burners are metacognates with the ability to think divergently, laterally and synthetically,” he said. “My belief is that we can take these examples of how play, creativity, and critical thinking take place in the Black Rock Desert with broader import beyond the Burn and use them to help us make the connections between the sciences, arts, and business that are so important for the health of our region. We must not divide the arts from other parts of our life, but rather work to understand that expressions of creativity are essential to advancing our goals.”

Reno: Where creativity is alive.

An arts destination isn’t a city with “zoo-like” museums where culture is gazed upon on pedestals. But an art destination is a place, like Burning Man, where culture is alive, “where the new and creative is birthed.” Prindle provided some very interesting data that speaks to the importance of engaging arts to attract new people to our community. Americans make 850 million visits to museums every year while only 483 million visits are made to major league sporting events and theme parks. Nationally, the non-profit arts and culture industry create $135.2 billion in economic activity annually and that for every dollar spent by government agencies on the arts, $7 in taxes are generated.

So an arts destination is a city filled with creative types and has an innovative environment that will lure more creative companies like Tesla. Prindle’s talk was very academic, but it stirred the audience. In addition to the many students that appeared to be at the lecture to fulfill a class requirement, many in the audience where local Burners and from the local arts community. Rex “Killbuck” Norman, a local artist who won the mural competition this summer at Circus Circus Reno casino, attended the talk and made comments about it on his Facebook page. He called Reno a “lab dish” that just might be in its golden era, where artists are left alone and without someone branding “Reno Style.” “I guess what I’d like to see Reno become is a more robust version of what it already is — an artist’s city rather than an art destination,” he said. “I’d rather not see Reno as a gallery city — but as a continually changing workshop of ideas and places and spaces where artists want to come and play and create… and yes, invite people to come, see and appreciate, and yeah, buy art too. It’s how we make a living…Yeah, we got it pretty good right now.”

I think I like Prindle’s vision of Reno as a city filled with lots of creative people — not just artists, but a culture of innovative, playful, critical thinkers. What he didn’t elaborate on are the next steps. I think this discussion definitely needs to continue.

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

July is over but the Reno art scene is sizzling

Do you know what day it is?

According to the Gregorian calendar, named in 1582 after Pope Gregory XIII, it’s the sixth day of August in year 2014. The calendar was adopted because the Julian calendar no longer was accurate and needed adjusting.

And, now, thanks to Artown, here in Reno, Nevada, we have a new calendar for tracking the arts. It’s a mystery why Artown, a festival held in July to celebrate the arts, added a 32nd day to the month. But they did. Perhaps they thought another “adjustment” needed to be made and wanted to spearhead the effort. So, just so everyone knows, according to that cockamamie logic, it’s July 37.

It was a fun July and a fun Artown. I didn’t do as much as I had hoped, but the events I attended were enjoyable, especially Pops on the River. But let’s bring on August and allow all the Leos out there to celebrate their month.

Just because July is over doesn’t mean the arts in Reno are finished.

No time for boredom

Every month has a First Thursday, which means strolling through the downtown Arts District for Art Walk Reno, looking at local and regional art.

Some of us are preparing to attend a little arts festival in the desert later this month called Burning Man, which will showcase more than 230 art projects on exhibit. And then the next weekend there’s Art Blast, a juried outdoor art fair, which is hosted by the City of Reno and held on the lawn at McKinley Arts and Culture Center.

For music lovers, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra’s season opens Sept. 14, and the Reno Chamber Orchestra’s opener is the following week.

Theatergoers can help usher in Reno Little Theater’s 80th season on Sept. 12.

And that’s not all! Reno is abundant with art and cultural events.

Last fall, Rich Van Gogh, owner of Liberty Fine Art Gallery, convened a brain-storming meeting to discuss how to promote Reno as city with year-round art. It was then that I thought Art Spot Reno would be the solution to his concerns. I shared my idea with Larry DeVincenzi, who also attended the meeting, and he agreed. That’s when we began plans to re-launch this website.

I knew that the most important component to help promote the arts would be a comprehensive (Gregorian) calendar of events. With more than 630 listings today, I’d say we’re well on our way.

So, if you hear anyone say they’re bored, please tell them to check out the Art Spot Reno calendar and get off the couch. There is no need to hibernate for 10 months and get sucked in to watching the entire lineup of television shows. (OK, maybe Scandal.)

We believe there’s a plethora of things to do and Reno is the SPOT for year-round art.

 

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

 

Midtown Needs More Cultural Entrepreneurs

I enjoy hanging out in the Midtown District. I’ve seen tremendous revitalization in this neighborhood that I wouldn’t think of walking around in 10 years ago because it was too seedy. (And I moved to Reno from Detroit!) Now, I feel as if I could be sitting in any hip-city neighborhood when I dine in one of the cafés or restaurants.

First, there was Süp. I remember its original location with the cramped seating. When I wanted a bowl of their yummy tortilla soup (with that perfect bite-size cookie), I knew I had to arrive early before the crowd snaked to the door. Luckily, it was one of the few places that encouraged sharing your table, a normal occurrence in Europe but not really the American way. They finally outgrew that space and moved north one block. It’s got the same great menu and same friendly staff. But it has something else I especially appreciate – more wall space for local art.

When I decided to cut off my locks, someone suggested a hairdresser who owned a salon in Midtown. I love Jessy’s bubbly personality, professionalism and skill, but I also enjoy glancing around at all the local art in Crimson Hair Art Studio.

These businesses and a handful of others in Midtown that display and sell local art are the true investors in their community’s art and culture. They’re not only neighborhood revitalizers, they’re cultural entrepreneurs.

Where’s the art?

When I walk around the Midtown District, I can’t help but wonder why no one has opened an art gallery.

I recently read a policy brief published by Ann Markusen, professor at the University of Minnesota and director of the Institute’s Project on Regional and Industrial Economics in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Her research examines occupational approaches to regional development and on artists, arts organizations, cultural industries, and cultural activity as regional economic and quality-of-life stimulants. In her brief, titled “How Cities Can Nurture Cultural Entrepreneurship,” she encouraged city leaders not to copy other city’s strategies but to focus on what is distinctive about your city.

“The twenty-first century will belong to the distinctive city, and entrepreneurial artists and designers are key to that future,” Markusen wrote.

So I wonder — why aren’t more businesses in Midtown collaborating with local artists. Yes, there are lovely murals on some business walls and the Midtown District corrals artists for the Sixth Annual Midtown Art Walk, which is on Thursday. But that’s one evening in July.

And now Good Luck Macbeth Theatre Company, which is located in the heart of Midtown, announced Chad Sweet, its Producing Artistic Director, is leaving and the theater company is questioning in which direction they should go.

Markusen said “artists bring income into the city, improve the performance of area businesses and creative industries, and directly create new businesses and jobs.”  The Midtown District should be Reno’s true example of how to nurture cultural entrepreneurship. Let’s think about how to make that happen year round when we’re out roaming the streets Thursday night on the annual art walk.

 

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Words Have Power — BELIEVE

One of the reasons why I love going to Burning Man every year is to see the magnificent art that’s on display. I’m always astonished at the creativity, scale and workmanship of the hundreds of pieces that dot the Black Rock Desert. And every year I have my favorites.

Last year, one of them was the huge steel letters that spelled out the word BELIEVE. It wasn’t the first piece by Jeff Schomberg and fellow artist Laura Kimpton that had resonated with me. In 2009, they brought their first of five words, so far, to the playa. It was MOM. This was the first burn after my mother’s death and bicycling by that word, with its cutout birds, every day became part of my grieving process. And last year, after losing a job I had been in for 10 years, once again I was grieving. I know the word was created to fit perfectly with the Cargo Cult theme, but it also spoke perfectly to me. At a time when it was easy to be filled with pity and doubt, that sculpture told me to BELIEVE in myself and my capabilities. Those birds that set my mother free now were setting me free to move on to the next adventure.

 Does Reno BELIEVE?

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw the BELIEVE sculpture installed last month at City Plaza. I learned from Christine Fey, Reno’s resource development and cultural affairs manager, that Kate Thomas, the city’s budget director, had made it her mission to bring it to Reno, after seeing it last year on the playa. I don’t know what it was, but I think Ms. Thomas had her own visceral reaction to the sculpture.

People congregate around it, are photographing it, and talking about it.

“It has made a huge hit,” Fey said. “It’s very approachable.”

The sculpture will be dismantled Thursday, but the City of Reno has started a fundraising effort, asking for the community’s help to keep  BELIEVE in Reno. The piece cost $70,000, $10,000 a letter.

Fey thinks it’s doable and would only take a few private donors who would be willing to purchase a letter, or two.

For anyone who’s thinking about making a donation, know that Jeff is a Reno resident with a studio off Dickerson Road. Yes, Laura lives in California, but part of the dynamic design and manufacturing team lives here and builds here.

Let’s allow this word to inspire others to have an R. Kelly moment and say, “I believe I can fly.”

 

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator