We’re on a Mission!

When we took over Art Spot Reno last year, our mission was to build a website dedicated to promoting and providing an online voice for the Reno arts community. We wanted to be the main portal for accessing information about what’s happening in Reno’s dynamic arts scene.

In order to do that, we wanted to have a thorough calendar listing of events. We’ve got that! I heard someone recently say we’re focused on visual art. Well, that’s not true. In addition to visual art, there’s music, dance, theater, film, literary, culinary, fashion, performance and Burner arts. Currently, we’ve got more than 1,150 items in the calendar. No one, whether local, visiting or planning their next trip to Reno, should say there’s nothing to do. We started the slogan More Art Everywhere for good reason!

Accessing information about Reno’s arts scene means more than offering a calendar. It means providing information about local artists. Thanks to a generous donation from The Great Western Marketplace, we’ve started an artist registry. We hope businesses looking for artists will use it as a resource. Although the list of visual artists is very long, we want this list to include actors, singers, musicians, dancers and writers. So, if you’re name isn’t listed in the registry, let us know and we’ll remedy that.

But it’s not going to stop here. We’re already working on the next offering on the website. I’m super excited, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I hope you’ll use Art Spot Reno to find out what’s going on around town and who are your local artists. And drop me a line, letting me know what you think. I appreciate feedback.

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, 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

Let’s Pay Attention to Reno’s Art

I just read the CBS Sunday morning news report about how Don Bacigalupi, president, and Chad Alligood, curator, from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., traveled more than 100,000 miles to almost 1,000 studios in 44 states on the hunt for unrecognized talent for an exhibit called “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now.”

Their mission was to find undiscovered artists across the country, to showcase in a contemporary art show.

“Wherever you come from, wherever you live, there might be a great genius artist working right next door, and if you haven’t paid attention to that, it’s worth doing,” Bacigalupi said.

Well, I couldn’t agree more!

We just held this month’s First Thursday Art Walk Reno. This event keeps getting better and better. (And I’m not just saying this because I help run it.) All you had to do was start at Liberty Fine Art Gallery and go on the walk to see the impressive variety of art that’s on display in Reno’s Downtown Arts District — 40 local and regional artists in 18 galleries and alternative venues.

Among the notables are: Bryce Chisholm, one of Reno’s hardest working artists, has work hanging in Noble Pie Parlor. Will Roger Peterson, one of the founders of the Burning Man organization, has a stirring exhibit, “Provocative Portraits” at Sierra Arts Gallery. Megan Ellis’ intricate insect studies are on display at Hub Coffee Roasters on the River. And Emily Silver’s remarkable examination of Las Vegas in “Ten Walks at the Edge of Las Vegas” is at McKinley Arts and Culture Center.

Although it would be great validation, we really don’t need Bacigalupi and Alligood to come to Reno for us to know we’ve got a vibrant arts community. But I think we need to remember what Bacigalupi said, so I repeat: “…there might be a great genius artist working right next door, and if you haven’t paid attention to that, it’s worth doing.”

We need to pay better attention to what we’ve got in Reno! We at Art Spot Reno truly believe this. We’ve even changed our Art Walk slogan because of it – More Art Everywhere.

After reading the CBS report, I perused the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to learn more about the exhibit. I found out that in conjunction with the exhibit, the museum held The Summit at Crystal Bridges: Insights from a Changing America.” I wish I would have been able to attend this sold-out conference. The who’s-who list of attendees included policy-makers, educators, business people, artists, and museum professionals. Former Pres. Bill Clinton was a guest speaker. He said:

 “The ability of democratizing the arts — making it available to more people, and giving people a chance to develop their own talents — will be one of the most important strategies we can pursue to build a future we can all share and live with.”    

Don’t take my word for it. Drive downtown, put on a pair of comfortable shoes and check out all the art. There’s More Art Everywhere!!

 

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

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

 

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

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

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