See It or Not: Art is Transforming Reno

I spent most of today getting a maker space ready for the big Gateway party tomorrow night. It’s been a non-stop week with meetings, art receptions and attending to a sick dog at home; and I wasn’t very excited about trying to transform a warehouse into a presentable party venue. But with the help of some super volunteers all pitching in, I gradually altered my mindset. By this afternoon, I looked around and was quite pleased with the day’s makeover. My personal shift has me pondering the concept of transformation – from attitudes, to structures, to place.

The Gateway Project is a group of nonprofits, community businesses and volunteers who are raising funds to bring Burning Man sculptures to Reno. This rag-tag group (I can say that since I’m one of them.) is part of Reno’s transformation. Last October, we held our inaugural event and raised money to bring Gary Gunderson’s “Pentamonium” to the Lear Theater grounds. Drive by that corner on any given day and you’ll likely see someone inspecting this interesting apparatus. And if you’re lucky, you’ll hear people playing the carillon with its harmonious bells. This year, the group is helping raise money to bring a Playa Park, containing three or four sculptures, to the Lear property. The park is the brainchild of Maria Partridge, an artist and the Artist Advocate for Burning Man. Partridge was awarded a $4,000 Global Arts Grant for her idea and this year’s reception and party is to help raise the rest of the funds needed to bring the sculptures to Reno. And while the beautiful, historical building remains shuttered, the grounds have come alive – transformed into a creative space.

And speaking of creative spaces, this year’s event is being held at Artech, a 61,000 square-foot warehouse in west Reno where artists are learning to be creative entrepreneurs. “We believe in the transformative power of creativity,” the website explains. It makes perfect sense to have this party at a facility that is practicing Burning Man’s ethos and contributing to Reno’s transformation.

If you were to stand at the Ralston Avenue/Riverside Drive junction for the next year with your eyes wide open, you would see the area’s creative metamorphosis. Not only will there be a Playa Park, but across the street will be a sculpture garden comprised of temporary artwork that was funded by the Rotary Club of Reno.  And because all the art is temporary, the area will be dynamic.

I believe this neighborhood is going to be the catalyst for positive change in downtown Reno. This art is going to shape the physical and social character of this area. Situated right on the Truckee River, more visitors and local residents – families, couples on date nights, even exercisers – will stroll this district, explore, and in some way be positively impacted.

Not that I’m comparing Reno to Washington, D.C, but I’ll never forget more than 20 years ago when I was in that magnificent city on business. It was the hot, sticky summer, so very early in the morning I would go out on my runs. One morning while running along the National Mall, I stopped suddenly and was taken aback when I came upon a garden filled with Henry Moore sculptures. I’m sure my heart rate remained elevated because of my excitement. I tell this story because I still remember that experience and that, undoubtedly, was an integral part of my personal creative transformation. And who knows, perhaps a playful piece that has touched the playa or some interesting work across the street in Bicentennial Park will place some very lucky people on a path of personal self transformation. The city already is on that path, whether it realizes it or not.

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

We’re leaving positive traces and trails

I’m still basking in the afterglow of Burning Man’s 10th annual Global Leadership Conference, held the first weekend in April. Five hundred of Burning Man’s global representatives and community leaders – ambassadors of the Burning Man culture from around the world – converged in San Francisco for this invitation-only affair. This year’s theme was “Workshopping the Future: Leaving a Positive Trace.” I’m convinced that everyone who participated was inspired and motivated to leave a lasting impact in their cities and the world. We learned from Burners who are already doing it.

I was especially impressed with two presentations during the plenary sessions – the founders of CHIditarod and Ramez Naam, a computer scientist, philosopher and science-fiction writer. I sat in awe, wondering how many others surrounding me were doing exceptional things like this.

Devin Breen went to Burning Man for the first time in 2005 and returned to his hometown of Chicago inspired to create participatory change. The next year, he began an urban version of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that’s held in Alaska that’s called CHIditarod. Instead of dogs and sleds, teams of five people in costume push decorated shopping carts, called art carts, through a neighborhood. Each team must start with their cart filled with food for donation. This year, 535 people raced, raising 15,000 pounds of food and more than $32,000 for local nonprofits working to alleviate hunger in the Chicago area. This event – with the motto: Dress Up. Cause Chaos. DO GOOD. – has all of the elements for it to be a success in Reno. We love to dress up in costume any chance we get. Renoites love to crawl. And people love to give to a great cause.

I returned, wondering if Art Spot Reno is beginning to leave a positive trace on the city. I believe we are, but there’s always more to do. We’ve got, in my opinion, the best calendar to find out what’s happening in the arts. We’re also trying to provide multiple ways to see all the great art we have in our city. There’s the first Thursday art walk and the monthly Midtown mural tours. And, loosely tying in with the conference I attended, we recently added the Playa Art Trail on the website. This page highlights seven sculptures that have been permanently placed, and one piece that has a temporary home in Reno. You can use the Google map and take your own driving tour, admiring the works that have been part of the Burning Man festival over the years. That’s a pretty positive trail.

I have a tendency to beat myself up and think I’m not doing enough. Well, this time I’m going to give myself a break. I’m going to refer to the CHIditarod, which just held its eleventh race and remember that, in May, we’ll be celebrating our two-year anniversary. I’d love to have 535 people coming out for our events monthly and maybe we can make that happen by 2025. In the meantime, I’m going to make it a goal to make sure Art Spot Reno continues to help leave a positive trace about the arts in our city.

 

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Sabbatical Brings Renewed Commitment

I’m baaack!

I’ve been on a three-month sabbatical for research. My research project was participating in a play with the Nevada Repertory Company – Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” It’s an American classic that, in 1959, was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway and directed by an African American.

Here we are still making history 57 years later. When the play opened and ran for two weekends in March at the University of Nevada, Reno, it made history as the first play with a black cast to perform on campus. When asked why I agreed to be in the play, my response is: “how could I say ‘no’ to making history.”

The play is a response to Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem,” which begins with the question “What happens to a dream deferred?” The person who I applaud for actualizing her dream is Director Sandra Brunell Neace. Three years ago, Neace directed “Doubt: A Parable.” When I interviewed her for an article in the Reno Gazette-Journal, I asked her about the lack of diversity in the acting pool in Reno. At that time she said: “We don’t have a lot of African-American or Hispanic actors coming to our auditions. There are so many great plays that we could do if we had some African-American actors in our ensemble that we could pull from. How boring is it to have white people up there all the time? It’s boring. We need more diversity.”

Neace, who teaches at UNR, saw the caliber of black students in the theater department and knew this was the time to bring one of the hallmarks of American theater to Reno. All she needed was a “mature” black woman to play Mama and a 10-year-old black boy. She asked me to audition and I just happened to know a little boy interested in acting.

Now I’m not an actor by any means. Yes, about six years ago I was the Angry Vagina in the Vagina Monologues, but that was nothing compared to the daunting task I committed to. I knew that agreeing to do this meant I had to give it everything I had. My cast, the university and my community deserved that.

Yes, I neglected Art Spot for a few months, and I hope you forgive me.

Several people have asked me if I had fun. After much contemplation, I think not. Yes, it was rewarding, demanding, fulfilling, and magical, but it was not fun. In so many ways, that play and the role I played is my history – my family, my ancestors, me. I cried in rehearsals and every night on stage.

One of my roles as a blogger and co-owner of Art Spot Reno is to be an advocate for the arts. This experience has cemented that charge. I sincerely believe more than ever that we must pay artists for their time and expertise. I know the many hours I devoted to this and think about all of the artists in our community who dedicate their lives to bringing us joy, identity, awareness, and so much more. They deserve to be compensated for our enjoyment.

Now about that other issue of more diversity…

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

 

 

 

2015 Reflection – Reno arts scene emanates joy and awe

Peruse the Internet and you’ll find one “best of 2015’ list after another — best movies, best books, best albums. It’s an easy way to reflect on the past year. Reviewing my 2015 calendar one last time, I can say there was a copious amount of exceptional arts events in Reno. Our motto is: “Reno is the SPOT for year round art” and this year truly confirmed that.

Between my business partner, Eric Brooks, theater critic Galen Watson and myself, we attended many openings, exhibits, plays and festivals. We didn’t have a strategy, just attended what interested us. There were some disappointments (and always will be), but Reno’s 2015 arts scene, for the most part, was enjoyable. I applaud those who brought newness — Off Beat Festival, Sculpture Fest and the Gateway Project. It’s events like these that allow us to confirm that Reno is filled with creative people and becoming an arts destination. I also commend Paul Baker Prindle, director of Sheppard Contemporary and University Galleries, for two notable exhibits that engaged wide and diverse audiences – “I Am My Brother’s Keeper,” and Tehching Hsieh: One Year Performance 1980 – 1981.

I’m also proud of the Midtown Mural Tour we started this year. The walk is a great way to view many artistic gems. I’m going to go all out here and say it’s the BEST mural tour in Reno.

That’s enough reflecting for me. I’ve got to start filling in my 2016 calendar. But please continue reading what Eric and Galen praised in 2015.

My New Year’s prediction (no crystal ball needed): It’s going to be a very busy 2016 in the arts!

***

Eric Brooks:

This last weekend marks my third year anniversary as a Renoite. Thank you for having me. It has been an incredible journey, with the path just beginning. As I reflect upon the last 12 months, I am in wonder of what was shown to us. 2015 was a whirlwind of receptions, pop-up’s, new events and the community coming out to engage with the art, artists, creating unique and lasting experiences. Here are my highlights out of a stunning schedule:

Tehching Hsieh

“Tehching Hsieh: One Year Performance 1980 – 1981” — Sheppard Contemporary showcased one of the most engaging exhibits of the year. Only the second time to be displayed in the U.S., we had a chance to experience this incredible piece April 16 – June 21. Mr. Hsieh was on hand for an artist talk and was happy to mingle with the crowds during the reception that followed. I sat near the back of the packed auditorium, there were times when the language and his soft tone made it hard to understand, but what came through loud and clear was his dedication to his craft. To see him discussing his life’s work, his passion and attention to detail, was moving – motivating. Two weeks later I returned to the exhibit on a lonely Wed. afternoon. I was alone in the room, surrounded by his face staring at me thousands of times, from every angle. The room was alive in silence. I sat down and tried to imagine the solitude he must have felt, the power he contained to endure. Those four walls were a lesson of struggle, the ability to conquer and move forward to the next. He made me want to be an artist.

Blueprint of a Mother

OverUnder: “Blueprint of a Mother” — The inaugural Sculpture Fest took place over Mother’s Day weekend. Along with BELIEVE sitting under the Reno Arch, more than 15 sculptures, many interactive, were placed on the ReTRAC pads downtown. The festival also featured projections from Android Jones and introduced two new murals, one from Christina Angelina and my favorite in the city, “Blueprint of a Mother.” Erik Burke is one of the most prolific muralists in town and has been responsible for national and international muralists coming to Reno. This piece, in particular, is massive — 70 feet of pure love. Love for family and for Nevada. A portrait of his wife who had just given birth to their first child. It still brings shivers when I drive south on Virginia, pause at Plaza and look up.

Exhibit showing at the Nevada Museum of Art through Jan. 18.

Exhibit showing at the Nevada Museum of Art through Jan. 18.

“Late Harvest” – Nevada Museum of Art — “The exhibition seeks to simultaneously confirm—through historically-significant wildlife paintings—and subvert—through contemporary art and photography—viewers’ preconceptions of the place of animals in culture.” That quote is from the Nevada Museum of Art website. We had 18 days in January before this spectacle closed. This exhibit was right up my alley — taxidermy of the most unique. This is one of those shows that you needed to see. When I told someone about a lion cut in half and the insides were filled with quartz, the 3-D shooting wallpaper or the large stained glass windows, which on closer inspection were butterfly wings, it just didn’t translate. That just scratches the surface. I walked those rooms a dozen times and still left with new perspectives each time. My favorite was watching students, of all ages experience the installation with a sense of awe and wonder.

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“Tiny Gems: A Series of Fleeting Experiences” — How about a show that takes place all over town and lasts only one night and it is highly interactive? Yes! Yes, as many times as you can ask me. Last July, Holland Project coordinated an evening of fleeting experiences, combining music, painting, writing, performance art, music, movement and a sense of magic. The experience started at the Planetarium then moved on to Chapel of the Bells, Old Post Office, Midtown Yoga and finished at Spectre. I joined the procession at the Old Post Office and was WOWED!! Yes, two exclamation points. There were piñatas to be smashed, tiny poems in a quiet, otherwise empty room for the taking, an intricate sign painted down a 20-foot hallway declaring, “I’m Going To Fall In Love With You One Day.” There was experimental music, bodies swaying in a perfect jilted texture to match the sounds bouncing around the dark concrete capsule we were sitting in. The evening continued to Midtown Yoga where glowing gowns lit one room and a bubble wrapped impromptu concert hall where everyone was offered a bottle of bubbles to fill the air. The best part of the evening was the look on every face I encountered – sheer joy. Not a sense of happiness or fun, it was joy, and I felt it for days after the event.

***

Galen Watson:  

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It has been a marvelous year for Reno Community Theater but ‘All good things must come to an end,’ wrote the father of English literature Geoffrey Chaucer in his poem “Troilus and Criseyde.” As this year marches inevitably to the conclusion of its own dramatic run, it seems appropriate for those of us who critique theater to pay homage to the dramatic arts. So, too, should we honor theaters, playwrights, casts, crews and those who work so hard to produce performances that inspire, provoke, amuse and entertain us.

This year, Reno Little Theater offered up Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize winning “Clybourne Park” that provoked audiences with issues of race and gentrification, and questioned the meaning of community.  And Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” tickled audiences as a thought-provoking comedy about cults of celebrity and the people we turn into rock stars: scientists, artists and even con men.

Over at Good Luck Macbeth Theatre Company, Chris Daniel’s “Last Call at the Old Southwest” explored LGBT history and the struggle for mainstream acceptance. Christian Durso’s “Shiner” was an ode to teen angst, hopelessness and the influence of Seattle Grunge rocker Kurt Cobain on a generation. George Brant’s off-Broadway play “Grounded” tackled the drone war, its moral dilemmas and the devastating effect on pilots who mete out death and destruction via a joystick.

Meanwhile at Brüka Theatre of the Sierra, the Broadway musical version of the British movie “The Full Monty” showed just how far a father would go for his son — even down to his birthday suit. David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People” spun a tale about choices in poverty-stricken South Philly: those who have them and those who give up theirs for the one they love. Finally, “Buttcracker 6: Underland” is a Brüka original holiday season ballet of the absurd – a parody of “The Nutcracker” and “Alice in Wonderland.” The “Buttcracker” series is sure to be Reno’s favorite alternative holiday show.

One of the reasons I love live theater is that it’s interactive. Actors communicate to the audience and the audience reacts in real time with joy, amazement, shock, sadness, introspection, glee or perhaps an epiphany or two. Every single one of the productions I critiqued spoke to me on some level. But now it’s time to choose my two favorites — not an easy task because there were many terrific productions and superb performances.

Grounded

Good Luck Macbeth Theatre’s “Grounded” was truly a one-woman tour de force. Ashley James swaggered around the stage in a trim flight suit, exulting, pronouncing, sermonizing, reflecting, lamenting, and despairing as her character evolved during the one-hour-plus performance. She mesmerized the audience, circling and pacing like a predator on the hunt ,while a screen at the rear of the stage projected her deteriorating sanity. The solo show was timely, compelling, and powerful.

Photo taken by Dana Nollsch

Photo taken by Dana Nollsch

Brüka Theatre’s American version of “The Full Monty” was simply a superbly realized production. A splendid, nine-piece band rocked David Yazbek’s musical score from the loft, led by Music Director Tony Degeiso. The audience was treated to jazz, blues, rock and more from these professional cool cats while the actors sang, strutted their stuff and danced their pants off, literally. The performers were talented, poignant and honest. They left me uplifted and tapping my toes. I gave the production a resounding 5 G-strings.

There you have it, the theater year in review. This wasn’t all of the fine performances that played this year; rather, they’re the ones we had the privilege to critique. So ring the curtain down on 2015 and we hope to see all of you in 2016 at one of Reno’s theaters.

 

Your Art Spot Team

 

 

Art Basel Miami: Art on Steroids

Eric Brooks, artist and co-owner of Art Spot Reno had the privilege of going to Art Basel Miami, the art rave with 267 galleries showing their work from Dec. 3 to 6 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. He’s taken the time to blog about his experience for all of us who could not attend. Enjoy and imagine a warm Atlantic Ocean breeze while thawing from our bitter-cold temperatures.

***

The body was tired but the mind was ready for more. At 7 a.m. we were sharing our photos and experiences as the bacon sizzled in the kitchen. Everyone’s hair was a frazzle and there was promise of rain for the rest of the week. Computers ticked away, coffee was made pot after pot, and conversation roared room to room about what would happen next.

The Miami Beach Convention Center is the main hub of Art Basel Miami Beach. With a capacity of 45,000 people, it was sure to be a day of journey and discovery. We fueled up, piled into the car and spent the next hour, giddy as kids waiting for Christmas day, crawling to our destination. It was 90 minutes before we jumped out of the car and walked the last half mile to the center. Two of our group had media passes, so they went right in. The rest of us had three hours to explore the surroundings before heading to the main event.

We knew Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton had some of their letters on display. It only took a few minutes to find one of his candelabras and a fire engine red painted LOVE in one of the ritzy hotels just off the beach. Jeff, who also lives in Reno, was there and we were able to go inside and see the rest of the pieces displayed. It was fancy. It was stunning. Throughout the hotel grounds were assemblage sculptures done by Kimpton, my first experience of her work outside of the letters. We were able to talk for a hot minute about the installation, it’s obstacles and rewards. This whole blog could be just about that, but we can come back to that later.

The weather was perfect – humid, but not overpowering. The energy of the event was a tangible thing. Like electricity, unseen but definitely alive. We wandered down to the Bass Museum of Art, which was closed for renovation, but the grounds held a special installation of sculptures. In less than 24 hours, and not attending an official Art Basel Miami Beach event, the trip was already worth it. The park was full of nearly 20 works surrounded by groups of students on tour, tourists snapping pictures, and what seemed to be a regular crowd of locals taking it all in.

We took a break for one of the best ice cold beers I’ve ever had, peopled watched for half an hour, and headed to the castle.

There were 1,000 general admission ticket holders waiting in line when we got there. It might seem daunting, but the atmosphere was much like waiting in line for a concert festival. Strangers were in easy conversation with each other as the line snaked towards the entrance. The woman in front of us was a collector from New York City on a limited budget. She spoke of the excitement to be in town and even though she probably wouldn’t be able to get what she wanted, was ecstatic to be part of what was happening. As we entered, the masses enveloped her and most of our group into different directions.

Immediately to our right was a collection of Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and more of their peers. The majority of art in the center isn’t priced. It is bad etiquette to inquire the prices unless you are really thinking about a purchase. I was curious all day long and kept my ears open. On several occasions I heard a variety of numbers, but nothing ever under 6 figures. Much like the overwhelming feeling of the murals at Wynwood the night before, the sheer jungle of booths is hard to describe. Maybe we can compare it to someone first walking into a casino. It is a flash and daze going through your mind at every turn and corner.  You are instantly lost in a sea of flesh. Nothing looks familiar, time stands still and the buzz is a constant that begins to numb the senses. You get turned around and walk swiftly avoiding people’s bodies more with instinct than with your eyes.

After a few hours, things adjust, the pulse slows and the eyes connect with a rapid yes/no to whether or not you should stay in this miniature gallery for more than sixty seconds. This is an international event, each both labeled like a prized pig with the gallery name and city/country they’re from.

It was a unique experience to look at the work and see where it was coming from, seeing if there were geographic trends. Overall, Berlin is Berlin. If it stopped you in your tracks and made your head turn slightly sideways, it was probably Berlin. In my estimation, if this was a game of RISK, New York was going to win the game. What I enjoyed most was the strong and powerful presence of galleries representing Mexico and South America.

I am by noooooooo means part of the art academia, which this room was full of. If some sick God wanted to turn our worldwide culture back to the stone age, that is where the bomb would drop.. At a certain point I started finding pieces that moved me, then stand near to the piece, waiting for someone to come start talking about what it all meant. I never waited long and was never disappointed. Pictures were seemingly encouraged and there was a camera phone in every hand.

At 8 p.m. the doors were closing, we all met back up and the torrential rains began. Torrential. The traffic seemed slow coming in, but going home,  it was the most exciting 5 mile-an-hour ride I’ve ever had. The adrenaline was pumping, again like we had just left a concert, raging. The music got turned up loud and we shouted back and forth about what art we loved and booed at the ones we didn’t .

This is no ordinary reaction to art. This is art on steroids. This is the transformative power that art has had in the past and continues to provide. The phrase art revolution is thrown around a lot these days, in particular to the economic re-development that can come with it. Never more have I believed this to be true. This visceral reaction can transport a viewer into another realm. It can create want, desire, fear, repulsion and it will make people travel around the world to find out what they feel.

We got home, our gracious host met us in the living room — soaking wet, head lamp still turned on, with a plate of BBQ steaks. He was laughing, the first words out of his mouth, “What was the best thing you saw today.”

 

Eric Brooks, Curator

Eric Brooks, Curator

Eric Brook’s late night stroll in Miami

Eric Brooks, artist and co-owner of Art Spot Reno had the privilege of going to Art Basel Miami, the art rave with 267 galleries showing their work from Dec. 3 to 6 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. He’s taken the time to blog about his experience for all of us who could not attend. Enjoy and imagine a warm Atlantic Ocean breeze while thawing from our bitter-cold temperatures.

***

I had never met Alex Steneck. We talked on the phone twice, each time for less than a minute; and there had been one short email about us talking more soon. It didn’t happen. Nonetheless, I got a taxi to the airport at 5 a.m. and headed to Miami.

Alex had been in contact with the Potentialist Workshop for the past two years about the interactive art group performing during the Art Basel festival. When Executive Director Pan Pantoja was unable to go on a scouting trip, I happily stepped into his big shoes. We crossed into Miami-Dade County a little after 7 p.m. Traffic came to a standstill on the five-lane freeway two miles from the event epicenter. Alex told me a little bit about the city. The population of Miami – Dade County is nearly 3 million people, with 70% being Hispanic. It is unlike any other city in America, and this city loves its art.

We wound through downtown, up side streets, avoiding the police barricades directing traffic in what seemed like a methodical maze of slowness. Down alleys we maneuvered, swerving through the bend and pull of energy and madness. “The event doesn’t really begin until tomorrow. This is preview night for the movie stars, billionaires and some of the world’s biggest collectors,” Steneck said.

Alex has been living in Miami long enough to have seen the Art Basel event develop into one of the largest art fairs in the world. Art Basel was founded in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland, where art quietly was bought and sold. In 2002, Basel launched a satellite fair in Miami. This year’s estimated attendance is 70,000 people. Nearly 300 galleries will set up in the Miami Beach Convention Center, along with 16 satellites throughout the city. Galleries also pop up on almost every street. And then there are the murals. Let’s talk about the murals.

It took 45 minutes to negotiate one mile to Alex’ house. Swarms of pretty people stopped to see the myriad of murals on every surface imaginable, 20- feet ladders dotting the landscape, as crews were in full effect, building the next layer of public art.

I dumped my backpack and hit the street, took the first left, and the first alley left again. A 40×70 foot wall had two ladders with artists floating above the gravel lot. Two more were sitting with cigarettes, exhausted with a look of accomplishment shining out of eyes lit by spotlights powered by a generator 50-feet away.

They were from St. Petersburg, Fla., James Oleson, Sebastian Coolidge, Elijah Barrett and Zulu Painter. They were just finishing their second mural of the day. I asked if they were commissioned to do this large mural, and Oleson replied, “We came up a couple days ago and started contacting businesses to try and wrangle some walls. We don’t get paid, but we want to be part of the movement that’s going on. We have two more planned for the week, one we did last year was just painted over.”  I asked how they felt about the temporary nature of murals, especially in a neighborhood with such a high rate of turnover. “It’s personal preference, it’s part of the world. I don’t like it but what are you going to do.  Keep painting and make it so good no one will want to touch it” Coolidge said.

They went on to talk about the enthusiastic mural scene in St. Petersburg and how the city has embraced the culture of street art. None of the major crews paints without permission. “It’s not worth the risk of losing the art. We spend a lot of time planning and executing our pieces. We want them to stay around as long as possible” Oleson said.

In the next few blocks, I easily recognized two more of their pieces. It was 10:47 p.m., and before 11 p.m.,  I had walked past four more murals going up. The event hasn’t officially started, but in reality, it was well on its way.

I walked the streets until two in the morning. At a certain point, the overwhelming feeling had passed. I was no longer surprised at the sheer number, and began slowing down to talk with the artists and find out where they were from and why they were here. The youngest was from Orlando, a 17-year-old who was more interested in my beard than talking about his lettering. His friends were sitting around enjoying the tropical night. Then I turned a corner and found the Wynwood Walls. The late Tony Goldman had a goal to create a center where people would come experience some of the greatest street artists in the world. It would also serve as a source of economic redevelopment.

It is nearing three a.m. The house is full of visitors from around the country, crashing on floors and couches. I forced a few hours sleep. Tomorrow is just the beginning

Eric Brooks, Curator

Eric Brooks, Curator

Off Beat bound to be upbeat

In 1987, a small group in Austin, Texas decided to start an event to showcase their local creative and music communities to people outside of the capital state. It worked. The South By Southwest festival, known as SXSW, began with 700 registered participants and showcased 177 artists on 15 venues and stages. They also held 15 panels, workshops and sessions. Growth was steady over the early years. In 1994, they added interactive and film events. This year’s event, held March 11 through March 20, showcased 2,266 artists on 107 venues and stages, with 233 panels, workshops and sessions.

Two men in Reno, Baldo Bobadilla and Remi Jourdan, have decided to do something similar with the Off Beat Arts and Music Festival. Ninety local, regional and national music acts will be performing from Nov. 5 through Nov. 8 at 13 venues. Kicking off with Art Walk Reno and including the Midtown Mural Tour, the festival also flaunts the local creative talents of visual artists.

Even before the big event begins, I applaud Bobadilla and Jourdan for bringing their version of SXSW to our Biggest Little City. It’s events like this that will boost our economy. Twenty years ago, a group brought a festival to Reno called Uptown Downtown Artown, simply known today as Artown. It’s mission was to help revitalize downtown businesses. The month long festival in July has grown from 30,000 participants to around 350,000.

With the Off Beat Arts and Music Festival’s emphasis on local talent, especially in visual arts and music, I think this festival has the strong possibility of accomplishing what some say is Artown’s oversight — one that truly celebrates the community’s cultural strengths. Of course, that means we’ve got to get out and participate in the weekend activities. I attend plenty of arts events. I know many of the visual artists and have attended quite a few classical and jazz events. I even have my favorite DJs I’ll check out. But the Off Beat Festival has quite a few performers I’ve not heard of. This festival is giving me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and become familiar what else Reno has to offer.

For years, I’ve heard people complain about what Artown doesn’t provide. I hope all of those faultfinders will be out, helping make the Off Beat festival a big success.

 

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

A Community Remembers Tim Jones  

Here’s what some people in the Reno arts community had to say about Tim Jones and his recent passing:

Dave Aiazzi, former Reno City Councilman

Whenever you hear James Earl Jones, you think of ‘Star Wars’. It doesn’t matter whether you hear it in a radio ad or in another movie, that voice always reminds you of Darth Vader. Likewise, whenever I heard Tim Jones I thought of the arts. Whether it be at the Holland Project, testifying at the legislature (for the arts of course) or Artown his voice brought me back to how far we have come.

In being one of the founders of Artown in 1996, Tim was one of the few who saw the potential for downtown Reno. Since the first inception of Artown he was a non-stop advocate to teach businesses and governments that art has a big role to play in the culture and self-image of a city and its people.

I had the great honor of working with Tim on so many levels. As a council member, Artown Board member, volunteer for his projects, as an audience member. I fondly remember one year when “The Sound of Music” was rained out at Wingfield Park. With ‘The Show Must Go On’ Attitude, Tim asked my wife DeLores if we could show it in our place at Park Tower. So up we went, bringing along the few audience members who stuck around. They were so sad to be missing the show they wanted to join us. I’m glad they did because they were the conductors in singing every song in the movie. Just imagine about 15 people in a tiny condo on the Truckee River watch a production of “The Sound of Music” being projected on a wall.

That was Tim. I always saw him smiling but it was brighter than usual that night. All he ever wanted was to show how important the arts are. I am so pleased that he succeeded.

With me.

With the City he loved.

Reno is where it is today in no small measure because of Tim Jones.

Fare well my friend.

-dave

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Larry DiVincenzi, creative brand strategist at Biggest Little Group

“What I remember most about Tim is the way he made you feel.  How you could be the most important person in a room filled with chatter.  What he did for our community was very public…what he did for so many people was very private – and powerful.”

“We lost our community voice when Tim departed.  Our silence is testimony to the big talent, and incredible person that he was.”

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Nettie Crowder Oliverio, chairman of Reno Little Theater board

The loss of Tim Jones impacts our Arts Community on a lot of levels. He was a good friend to many, happy to share a great bottle of wine and succulent conversation. When the promise of an interesting project with a lot of moving parts reared its head, Tim was a natural collaborator for his ability to connect people and ideas. That same talent for connection plucked young people incubating new directions in artistic endeavors from isolation as Tim graciously mentored and guided them, introducing them to like-minded parts of the community that could help them.  For an organization concerned they were having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, Tim was a first call for consultation. And to my knowledge, he never said no.

All of our Arts Community has benefited from Tim’s penchant for political advocacy, whether they know it or not. In his 12 years on the Nevada Arts Council his natural curiosity about how the pieces come together to form the whole led him to learn the players and their predilections related to support of the arts. As any good Development officer would do, Tim helped elected representatives understand the place and power of the arts in Nevada’s economy, which then offered them a compelling reason to support legislation that would grow and stabilize the State arts budget.  

To our tremendous benefit, he didn’t keep those insights to himself. Via Tim’s encouragement and leadership, we all had an opportunity to learn from his model and engage in advocacy ourselves. Within hours of his passing members of the Arts Community were already communicating their dedication to keeping his work alive and moving forward, insistent that it MUST continue.

There’s SO much that Tim touched, engendered, influenced and motivated. His thoughtful understanding of the Work of Art and his projects telling the story of that work, his role in the creation of Artown, his ongoing presence in Artown with his curated “Movies in the Park”, his shepherding, his willingness to co-chair the Reno Arts Consortium when he had every right to take some time off from arts leadership…the list goes on. Much work remains to be done and Tim’s loss is a huge lacuna, but he left us with tools and knowledge. The best leaders teach others to lead. Tim did.

Celebrating Tim Jones, Reno’s dedicated arts advocate

I had the pleasure of first meeting Tim Jones on March 25, 2013. I was writing a big story on arts advocacy and the attempt, led by Jones, as president of the Nevada Arts Council board, to persuade state legislature to restore funding to the agency, whose mission it is to ensure state and national funds support cultural activities and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada.

Over a two-hour coffee at Homage Bakery, he and Nettie Oliverio impressed me with their dedication and passion for the arts. They were a great team. Nettie was the lighthearted, but informative one; while Tim was stern and on point. Four days later, I lost that job and the story never was published. For some reason, I kept those transcribed notes. What he had to say about the arts was too important to delete from my hard drive.

On Sept. 28, Tim passed away and Reno (as well as the state) lost one of its esteemed arts champions. I reviewed those old notes and want to share a few of his quotes. Reading them, I immediately heard his soothing, calming voice, one that people listened to and respected. I sincerely hope we cherish and carry on his objectives. And may his memory be for a blessing.

Here are excerpts from my March 25, 2013 interview with Tim Jones:

“The arts helped people living in Reno to rediscover their own city.”

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“Part of the work that we do is constantly reminding people of the role arts and culture in our city, in our state and in our country. As far as Reno goes, I like to remind people that so much of what has happened in our city, growth wise, started with a single arts festival in 1996 that was called “Uptown Downtown Artown.” That has evolved into Artown. But everything that we have seen in our downtown development, especially along the arts and culture corridor and now spreading into other neighborhoods, started with an arts festival. And it spawned everything, from business development to the kayak whitewater park to residential condos, business investment spreading through to Midtown. People took note of what happened in 1996 and the subsequent years and invested heavily in our downtown area and improved the quality of life for everyone.”

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When we talk before the Reno City Council, certainly when we talk before other lawmakers and people who make decisions, we like to stress what the arts do for communities. We help the economy, because when the arts move in and become part of the quality of life, business takes note and they invest in the community.

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It’s important for everyone to always remind each other and elected officials about the power of the arts to make sure this growth is sustained.

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A state composed of cities, communities — whether urban or rural — rich in the arts benefits everybody. It happens every single day of the year.

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