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Reno is the SPOT for year-round art

It’s time to bid farewell to another July. I don’t have much time to sit back and relax because I’ve got more arts-related fun things to do. But I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the past 31 days that were called Artown.

I’m old school. Early in July, my good friend Toni Harris and I sat at her dining room table and marked in our Little Books all the events we wanted to check out. I was very happy to see, thanks to the Sierra Arts Foundation, a celebration of local artists of all genres on opening night. That has been one of the big voids in this month-long festival. Artown’s main goal is “to encourage local artist participation and highlight the best performers in northern Nevada” and they finally did that.

I made the mistake of forgetting to use insect repellent that first week and had the mosquito bites to show for it. But it was a great week to get a cultural infusion with the African Children’s Choir and the South African All Stars, featuring Bakithi Kumalo. Both were delightful concerts. My only disappointment was the dearth of diversity in the audience. It has me pondering: what is it going to take to get more people from racial and ethnic groups in Reno to participate in the arts? Arts and culture should be an important avenue for bridging racial strife. I’m getting tired of sitting in an audience for a culturally rich evening of music or dance with a preponderance of white faces over the age of 60. (It’s time to come up with a hashtag similar to #oscarssowhite. But I digress.)  

I love Pops on the River – the fundraiser at Wingfield Park for the Reno Philharmonic where the orchestra performs a Broadway-inspired concert and people decorate tables and wear costumes. I’ve been attending for quite a few years now, humming along to my favorite show tunes while wearing a fun outfit. But I’m going to call it like it is a confined crawl for elitist. So, if any of you reading this are against the themed downtown crawls, think about how much you love spending $450 or more for a table to decorate and planning your group’s costumes to parade around in and dance in a conga line.

We (Art Spot Reno) helped the businesses on Dickerson Road put on another successful open house called Discover Dickerson. Although it was a scorcher, people roamed the industrial arts district, familiarizing themselves with all that’s offered – ceramics, blacksmithing, jewelry making, bookselling, beer brewing, movie watching, auto repairing, global and urban dancing, gardening, and dining.

Of course I also had to attend the theatrical productions at the Reno Little Theater, Good Luck Macbeth and Brüka Theatre – all enjoyable performances.

While Artown is strong in performing arts, especially music, it’s still lacking in showcasing fine visual art. Thanks goodness for the annual Coeur d’Alene Art Auction, which was held at the Peppermill. I was especially drawn to James Bama’s realistic cowboy paintings and Fritz Scholder’s sincere, contemporary paintings of Native Americans. Costing approximately $30,000 each, none of these magnificent works came home with me. But I have the catalog.  What a tribute it is to Reno to have this auction that’s considered the largest in the field of classic Western and American art. With around 750 bidders and 95 percent of the 313 pieces selling, sales exceeded $18 million.

Well, those were the highlights of my July. Yes, it was busy, but I can be just as busy enjoying the arts in Reno any other month of the year, and so can you. For good reason, our motto is “Reno is the SPOT for year-round art.”  Make it yours, too.

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno 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

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

 

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