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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 is an ART town!

My idea of a summer arts festival is like the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which really is four juried art fairs in one, held over four days in July. Like Artown, the Ann Arbor Art Fair was started to be an economic boost to the city’s downtown, which nearly died when the University of Michigan students left for summer break. The first fair, held 55 years ago, covered two blocks with the works of 132 artists. This year, it’s expected more than 1,000 artists will participate, booths will span more than 30 blocks and at least 500,000 people will attend.

Having lived in several big cities back east, I understand the concept of summer arts festivals and have attended a fair share. So when I moved to Reno in December 2002, I asked co-workers about the arts scene. They told me about Artown.

After my first Northern Nevada winter and watching the snow melt on Peavine, I was eager to check out Artown. I remember the first time I rifled through the infamous “little book,” wondering where the art was. Yes, there was top-notch dance and music (Mikhail Baryshnikov and Bradford Marsalis were performing), but how can a so-called arts festival lack visual arts?

Over the years, I continued to eagerly await the arrival of the “little book,” expecting at some point to see a juried art show scheduled for one of the weekends.

It took me a while, but I finally realized what Christine Fey, Reno’s resource development and cultural affairs manager, explained so well in the current Reno News & Review. She said: “Sometimes people don’t realize how Artown actually works. Artown is much more of a marketing arm for the arts, for what happens during the festival.”

Yes, Artown receives a chunk of money from the city and hosts fundraisers to put on concerts in July, but it’s arts organizations and local businesses that organize and hold most events advertised in that “little book. “

It also has year-round art

Many people still think that July is the only month for enjoying the arts in Reno. But most of those organizations and businesses listed in the book have arts events year round.

I’ve had folks in the arts community tell me for the longest time that one of the biggest problems was Reno didn’t have one good calendar for the arts. You could find some listings at the Reno Gazette-Journal and some at the RN&R, but it was spotty at best.

When we were planning to re-launch this Art Spot website, I knew we had to have the mother-of-all-art-calendars. It had to encompass all art genres, be easy to maneuver through and provide enough information to motivate you to get off of the couch and participate. With more than 530 Reno events listed in What’s Happening, I’d say we’re off to an excellent start.

My little Artown book for this year is on my desk. Like Christine, I will go through it and highlight what events I want to check out. Yes, everything in that book is on the Art Spot Reno website, too, but call me old school. By the end of the month, that “little book” will have dog-eared pages.

And on the “33rd day,” when Artown is all packed up for 2014, I know any Reno resident, any out-of-town visitor who wants to know what’s going on in this city – from visual art, dance, music, film, performance art, theater, literary arts, and even Art Blast, the city’s upcoming juried art show – will have a SPOT at which to find out.

 

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator