Consider who supports the arts when voting

When the polls opened, I delayed casting my ballot because I was conflicted about some of the candidates. Now an arts advocate, I had to consider how important the arts are to the candidates. Which ones voice and show support of the arts and arts education? Who appreciates and understands the impact that arts and cultural programs have on communities and state revenues?

For some input, I asked these questions to several people affiliated with local arts organizations. I counted on the Reno Arts Consortium, an organization comprised of leaders of arts and cultural organizations and public institutions, to supply their endorsements. But no such luck. The group did, however, invite candidates to speak at its meetings and, subsequently, wound up endorsing only Lucy Flores for Lieutenant Governor because “she openly supports the work of artists and arts education.” On the mayoral race, it was split 50/50. Perhaps that wouldn’t have been the case if Hillary Schieve hadn’t cancelled her appearance at the last minute. Raymond (Pez) Pezonella, on the other hand, did meet with the consortium and shared his interest in the arts.

So what do I know for sure? Schieve, currently the at-large member on the City Council, is the liaison between the Reno Arts and Culture Commission, Sierra Arts Foundation and Artown.  Full disclosure: I’ve been on the Sierra Arts Foundation board for three months and she hasn’t attended a meeting during that time. She says she’s a huge supporter of the arts, but I have to ask myself: Then why didn’t the consortium endorse her?

The consortium also was divided on the Ward 2 City Council race, between Elisa Cafferata and Naomi Duerr, and just didn’t comment on the Ward 4 race between Paul McKenzie and Bonnie Weber.

I have to go back to what I know for sure. Duerr attended a First Thursday event at Liberty Fine Art Gallery. She even purchased a piece of art. Also, she commented on my last blog about making Reno an arts destination. She said:

“Really enjoyed your article, Geralda! Lots to mull on here. Hope everyone is ready to help the new Reno City Council take Reno to the next level, artistically speaking… ”

This comment tells me she’s open and, as someone trained in the sciences, perhaps needs more data. And she’s the only candidate who probably read my blog – she gets extra points for that!

Research, like that found in the Arts & Economic Prosperity III report by the Americans for the Arts, says if cities/communities invest in the arts, they will reap additional benefits in terms of jobs and economic growth. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but undoubtedly not all of the political candidates realize the economic value of the arts. We need men and women in office who get it, who will articulate the impact of arts on communities and who will help make Reno a vibrant creative center.

This is not the time to stay home on Election Day and not vote. In addition to securing support for the arts, we have big issues in our state and nation to consider — civil rights, women’s rights, and human rights. Your vote does matter.

 “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt 

 

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

 

Plenty to brag about at Burning Man

I’ve physically returned from Burning Man, but the eau de playa dust fragrance has permeated my surroundings, and the pulsating throb from dancing for hours at Robot Heart lingers deep within me. Frankly, I’m not so sure I want these reminders to vanish just yet—reminders that I was on the best little vacation ever at the most remarkable outdoor art gallery.

I realize that this weeklong festival at the Black Rock Desert is whatever you want it to be, and for some that means it’s just a big all-night dance party. Now, don’t get me wrong. I did my fair share of dancing, but for me, Burning Man is so much more. It’s a visual wonder! I’m always amazed at the creativity—the outfits, the neighborhood camps, the art cars and the art installations.

For the second year in a row, I led art tours during the festival. This year I had the honor of writing the tours script. For many, giving more than 40 hours of their time to research the 27 selected tour pieces and write about them for a team of guides to share wouldn’t be a privilege. But for someone like me whose main interest is the art, learning as much as I could about them was sheer joy.

This was my seventh consecutive year attending the festival, and I’ve gotten spoiled. I now expect to be wowed by scale, technology, fire techniques, LED lights and interactivity. Some years are better than others. This year, it was about scale, with a 105-feet tall man that stood on the desert floor and a 62-feet high couple that were twisted in an embrace. Peter Hudson returned with a mind-blowing stroboscopic zoetrope, “Eternal Return,” that depicted a golden woman ascending and returning. (This definitely was my favorite.) And Dan Fox told the heroic tale of a 40-feet tall ghost ship, the group that wanted to awaken it and those who wanted it destroyed. The epic ended with an exciting battle, a story that definitely will be passed down as the best playa assault in history.

What I loved most about giving art tours was bragging about all the art on the playa that was created and built in Reno.  The 62-feet high couple, called “Embrace,” was erected/constructed by Matt Schultz and his team at the Generator. The gold-domed Islamic mosque that housed hand-made books and beautifully designed seating was “Library of Babel,” a first-time honorarium project by Warrick Macmillan. Laura Kimpton and Jeff Schomberg, with flame-effect help from Steve Atkins, brought out lots of love with the “Pyramid of Flaming Love.” David Boyer’s kinetic sculpture, “Getting Your Bearings,” danced in the wind. And three beautiful mosaic-tiled daffodils that looked like they burst through the playa were “Beauty and Urban Decay” by Peter Hazel. One more time in my twelfth year living here, I was proud to be from Reno.

We are very lucky to have this art incubator, or counterculture event, which just so happened to result in $55 million being spent in our state in 2013, in our backyard.

 

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator