Posts

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

 

 

Let the Mural Competition Begin

I was apprehensively pleased when I heard Circus Circus Reno was hosting a 24-hour Wall Mural Marathon July 13 and July 14. The casino sent a call to artists to enter the contest to paint one of seven panels located on the exterior of the main building facing Virginia Street. Anticipating an annual July event, the casino said the murals will be displayed for the year. I truly hope they’re engaging, gallery-quality works that I will be disappointed to see painted over in a year.

The selection committee  consisted of Debbi Engebritson from Circus Circus, Mike Kasum from Circus Circus, Jeff Frame a local architect, Kelsey Sweet, a local artist, and Steve Polikalas of the Regional Alliance for Downtown  (RAD). Three spots were open for local muralists and muralists from anywhere could fill the remaining spots. Unfortunately, only one out-of-towner applied, so all of this year’s candidates are local.  They are: Blanco de San Roman, Pan Pantoja, Alex Fleiner, Heather Jones, Joe C. Rock, Rex Norman and Mike Lucido. Two alternates, Nate Clark and Dave Cherry, were selected in case someone drops out.

I love driving around Reno and seeing murals painted in unexpected places. I congratulate muralists for taking art into communities. Those walls are Reno’s outdoor museum. And I do believe a painted wall reduces graffiti and vandalism. I moved to Philadelphia in 1985, a year after the city began its Mural Arts Program, which started as an effort to get rid of the city’s graffiti cataclysm. Since then, the city has produced more than 3,600 murals and is a national, and international, example of what can happen when you take art to the streets.

We need more talent, more time

Although I know most of the candidates and am impressed with the skill level of several, I was hoping a little out-of-town talent would strengthen the competition and show us some new forms of street art. I frequently peruse websites and am awed by some of the street art I see on display in cities around the world. Just imagine what it would be like to walk through exhibits at the Nevada Museum of Art if all the art was from Nevada artists.

If the walls of buildings truly are the city’s outdoor museum, then it befits us to follow the NMA’s example and be “a cultural and educational resource for everyone.”

Most “true” street artists understand what it takes to paint a mural under tight time constraints. I’m concerned for those artists who aren’t used to painting outside especially on a very tight deadline. I’m reminded of that episode of Ink Master when tattoo artists were challenged to show their lettering skills by spray painting graffiti art on a wall. It was difficult and one guy’s work was barely legible. I’m hoping (and praying) that all the murals are finished and presentable for our community museum.

Yes this is the inaugural mural competition.  Hopefully, the word will get out and more muralists will apply next year. That has to happen, if the Mural Marathon is going to become a reputable competition. In the meantime, I applaud Circus Circus Reno for coming outside those casino doors, hosting this competition and contributing to Reno’s public art. Now just imagine what downtown Reno would look like if the other casinos joined Circus Circus Reno, put money in the prize-winning kitty and found walls for muralists. I don’t think we’d still compete with Philly’s praise as the “City of Murals,” any time soon. But give it 30 years.

 

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Make an Impression and Know about Reno’s Arts

A friend recently hosted a dinner party while her mother was visiting Reno from Cleveland. It was a lovely evening with delicious dishes and great conversation. I always enjoy chatting with out-of state visitors. It’s a way to stay connected with what’s going on in the arts in the rest of the country. I also get to find out what they think of my city.

Diana lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Although she didn’t know about Corky & Lenny’s, which, in my opinion, is one of the best Jewish delis around, she knew what was going on in her arts community.

She told me about the 20-foot-tall outdoor chandelier that recently was positioned in Cleveland’s theater district and hangs 24 feet over a the area’s main intersection. We then talked about the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra and its music director, Franz Welser-Möst. But she was most excited to tell me about the Cleveland Museum of Art’s recent expansion and renovation, which added more than 35,000 square feet of gallery space, including Gallery One, a high-tech space that features interactions with top pieces of art. Plus, the museum is free.

Diana most definitely wasn’t a philistine and was proud to tell me all that was happening culturally in her city that sits on the southern shore of Lake Erie. But she also enjoyed coming to Reno and said she even has encouraged her friends to visit the Biggest Little City.

Really, I asked. What impresses you most about Reno? The public art, she said.

Explore and learn

I’ve been thinking about my conversation with Diana and wondering what Renoites would say about their city’s arts and culture scene.

When I asked one of the women running for mayor that question, I knew she wasn’t getting my vote when the only thing she talked about was what happens in July. One month doesn’t make a year and it definitely doesn’t make an arts city.

That’s the main reason for Art Spot Reno. We want to celebrate Reno as the spot for year-round art. And if you don’t know what’s going on, we’ve made it very easy to find out with a comprehensive calendar. Please use it and explore your city.

When you go on those summer vacations and someone asks about Reno, I want you to be as impressive as Diana was about her city.

***

Here are a few things that impress me about Reno’s arts and culture scene:

  • The city has more than 170 pieces of public art and its collection is commensurate to a city the size of Sacramento. The city’s sculpture collection includes many national names, including Michael Heizer’s “Perforated Object” in front of the Bruce R. Thompson Federal Courthouse on South Virginia. Heizer is known for the 340-ton boulder that sits on the grounds at the L.A. County Museum of Art.
  • The Nevada Museum of Art is the only accredited art museum in the state.
  • Because Reno is the gateway to Burning Man, the city has become a key location for pre-building and staging playa art. Artists and builders around the world are watching how Reno is doing this.

 

Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator