A January Stroll Through Downtown Reno

My good friend Liz Margerum returned to Reno from Copenhagen, Denmark with her husband and nine-month-old daughter for the holidays. A Reno native who hasn’t explored her old stomping grounds in a few years, I decided to take them on a downtown art tour. It’s been a couple months since the Reno Mural Expo and I, too, wanted the chance to experience these fantastic murals and walk our downtown corridor.

Many Reno residents are afraid to walk around downtown if it isn’t the month of July. I get it. The casinos draw “colorful” characters and our city has a homeless problem. But I wanted to know for myself if this was a justified fear. Having lived in Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Dallas, I believe I’ve earned my street credentials.

We started at City Plaza, checking out two magnificent sculptures – BELIEVE, by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton, and the Space Whale, by Matt Schultz and the Pier Group. Since Liz and her husband, Ricco Schneider, met at Burning Man in 2014, I thought these former Burning Man sculptures would be notable. They were. Although Liz’s daughter was too young to enjoy them, Mike Lucido’s whimsical raccoon murals on the electrical boxes are a fun attraction.

We walked two blocks to see Fallen Rose’s alley cats and one of my favorites of the Expo – the west-facing wall at Doc Hollidays. Anthony Ortega’s colorful owl with its piercing eyes watching over Second Street.

Two blocks north on Lake Street is Asa Kennedy’s panoramic cityscape. From this vantage point, anything is possible. What an inspiring message for all those coming and going from the bus depot. And a block away is its polarity. Ricky Lee Gordon’s message, “Nature Conspires with Spirit to Emancipate Us,” is a dark and gloomy commentary on the duality of man and nature. We then walked two blocks north on Virginia Street, passing Erik Burke’s huge mural, “Blueprint of a Mother”, honoring his wife, to six playful and uplifting murals.

A pink flamingo, a green cow, a black coyote, and a big black bear with fish – the production wall at 340 N. Virginia St. has been referred to as the farm. And with the alien queen and the field of flowers, I sense a thrilling M. Night Shyamalan-esque story is just waiting to be told. (Where did that white car that was parked in front of Joshua Coffey’s bear for more than a week really go?) I’m also happy to point out that four of the murals were painted by women (Lisa Kurt, Emily Reid, Jamie Darragh, and Kelly Peyton) and one by a 10-year-old girl.

We take a four-block detour on Fourth Street to see five exceptional murals. While walking to The Depot, Ryan Fassbender’s “4 Dollar Bill” spans the wall behind Lincoln Lounge. A street familiar to the city’s homeless community, this image has profound symbolism. Meanwhile, the five murals gracing The Depot are hidden gems by Joe C. Rock, Ahren Hertel, Rafael Blanco, Handsome Hernan and Bryce Chisholm. Now to stroll back to the alley just past the Reno Events Center and head to Fifth Street. Ricco commented on how clean the alley is compared to those in Copenhagen.

As we approached Fifth Street, Chip Thomas’ powerful image of a woman’s face that’s covered with environmentally-charged words appears. This wheat paste on the Monte Carlo motel took my breath away when I first caught a glimpse of it during the Expo and still does. On the adjoining east-facing wall is Yale Wolf’s super-stretched Cadillac, a perfect tribute to Hot August Nights. Continuing down the alley, we see two of the largest murals in the city, more Burning Man sculptures, and a casino’s contribution to the city’s strong art scene.

Erik Burke and Joe C. Rock are delivering messages in their murals – “Look to the Pasture to See the Future” and “Daydream.”  Meanwhile, the sculptures in the Reno Playa Park are beckoning. After exploration and play, we began our walk down Virginia Street. On the west-facing wall of the Monte Carlo, we now get to see David Kim’s tribute to his Korean heritage. The smiling Asian woman represents the thousands of women and girls that the Japanese Imperial Army forced into sexual slavery during World War II. It’s also a reminder that Reno is part of the current sex trafficking trade.

Stomachs are beginning to growl and energy levels have dropped, which means it’s time for lunch. Deciding on Liberty Food and Wine Exchange, we walk past three more murals on Second Street. Ricco crosses the street and goes into Fulton Alley to fully absorb Stephane Cellier’s “Kiss.” The last two murals are on the façade of the red building at the corner of Second and Sierra Streets. Both explore Reno’s culture. Joe C. Rock’s, on the south-facing wall, shows a little of the history of gaming in Reno. The west-facing wall includes a Native American with his hat and cowboy boots, wearing colorful pants with a design artists Collin van der Sluijs, from the Netherlands, and Troy Lovegates, from San Francisco, say was inspired by casino carpet, and a familiar blue bird. We only missed the two murals at Headquarters Bar.  

Ready to sit, relax and dine, we review the two-hour walk. Liz was excited to see so much more art downtown.

“I think it hides some of the ugly buildings and discourages graffiti,” she said. “It also adds a cool fun vibe. You may not like every mural, but I think there is something for everyone. The murals help to spruce up downtown Reno and give people something positive and thoughtful to look at.”

Ricco was also impressed.

“The painted walls in Reno makes the otherwise drab and dead walls spring to life and makes the city come to life. It gives the city soul and character,” Ricco said. “The images are all diverse and they make you think. It was an amazing afternoon on an urban treasure hunt.”

Downtown has never been safer to walk. But if you are nervous about experiencing our new outdoor gallery, then join us beginning in March on a monthly docent-led tour of the more than 30 new murals. Check our website for more information on dates and times.

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

“Irma” by Rafael Blanco

By Bryce Chisholm

“Comfort” by David Kim

Bear by Joshua Coffey

Public Art: Time-Place-Meaning

It’s no secret that I enjoy going to Burning Man. If the Black Rock Desert dries in time, this will be my tenth consecutive year attending the event. It was the large-scale art installations that were so alluring that I looked forward to returning each year, and still do. I’m awestruck by the massive sculptures – some shooting fire, others are intricately lit and dance with LED light patterns. It’s a playground of spectacular art installations that allow the 70,000 people who attend the weeklong event to become physically or emotionally engaged. While taking a group last week on a tour of Reno’s downtown public art, I commented that I believed Burning Man was a good example of how public art should be. Her response was – is it public art if you must buy a ticket to see it.

I love it when I’m challenged to think critically about something. Right now, I’m trying to understand public art and its meaning. My personal examination began last month after attending a Passover dinner where this was the topic of conversation while enjoying dessert. Our dinner was right after Reno City Council decided to temporarily place the Space Whale sculpture, which is a life-size, stain glass humpback whale and calf that was first seen last year at Burning Man, at City Plaza. The decision caused lots of chatter. I’ve heard and read pros and cons. Many asked why is the city using their money for this instead of using that money for something like repairing potholes. Reno Gazette-Journal newsman Mark Robison wrote a great article that explains that a small portion of room tax must go to public art. Whoever the person was that came up with the idea of using part of the tax money from tourists for the city’s public art, I applaud you! Others complained that Reno has too much Burning Man art. And to those people I suggest you come on one of our downtown public art tours we give and see the variety of public art that’s here. For a city our size, the collection is quite impressive. But back to Passover dessert.

I sat at the table across from Paul Baker Prindle, Director of Galleries at the University of Nevada, Reno. While enjoying my first blackberries of the season, Paul said he’d like to see more public art in Reno instead of outside art. Wait…what? I’d never heard this distinction before and now needed to understand the difference. It’s one with which I’m still trying to grasp. Public art engages the viewer whereas outside art is there simply to look at. Does this mean there has to be physical engagement or a visceral reaction for it truly to be considered public art? I’m reminded of a talk Paul hosted four years ago on public art. Women from Daily Tous Les Jours, a French Canadian design group, spoke about their installation in Montreal called 21 Swings. Twenty-one swings hung in Montreal’s entertainment district. When people would swing, instrumental sounds filled the air. As more people would swing, melodies and harmonies formed. It is described on their website as “an exercise in musical cooperation…thus stimulating a sense of community and ownership of space.” OK, now I’m having a lightbulb moment! Perhaps that’s the true meaning of public art — that which stimulates a sense of community and ownership of space.

I was awakened at that Passover dinner. I think my exploration and understanding of what is public art has only just begun. Paul is sharing books and articles with me on the topic and I now have plenty of reading material. It is with this acute lens that I will walk the Reno streets, examining our art collection. Does Reno’s public art stimulate a sense of community and ownership? Does it express our community values, heighten our awareness or challenge our assumptions? As you can tell, at this point I’ve still got more questions than answers on the topic. (I welcome your thoughtful comments.) What I do know for sure is that the quality of any artwork we have on display in our city must always be of the highest quality. And that doesn’t mean it has to be high art.

The Association for Public Art says:  Public art is a reflection of how we see the world – the artist’s response to our time and place combined with our own sense of who we are.” Who are we, Reno? It’s obvious we’re becoming an arts hub and we’re the gateway to Burning Man and temporarily displaying some of its art. Now, let’s bring art like the 21 Swings here and develop a strong sense of play and community.


Geralda Miller, Curator

Censorship: What the Fuck!

I love coffeehouses. I’m sitting at Homage Bakery, with my laptop, a pot of soothing green tea and a posset. This old house has been a regular hangout of mine since it opened five years ago. It has the perfect vibe — a fusion of great coffee and tea, delicious treats, people chatting in the three cozy rooms, and compelling art on the walls.

I was especially excited when Vernon Alumbaugh, father of the establishment’s owner, began curating the walls with absorbing, artistic photographs. Whether color or black and white, landscapes, portraits or photojournalism, the images always draw me in, take me on a journey to some exotic location, or stir an emotional reaction. I must admit that on several occasions I’ve been so absorbed by a photograph that I’ve not been engaged as much in a conversation as I should have been.

Being a former journalist who has covered protests, I was especially captivated with Alumbaugh’s protest photographs. It really didn’t matter which protest it was, I felt the emotion in the messages, texture, light and composition.

Photography is in Alumbaugh’s blood. He grew up scrolling the pages of Time, Life, National Geographic and Look magazines, wondering how those photojournalists captured those incredible images. When he picked up the Nikon, he said his goal was to capture all that you wouldn’t have seen even if you had been there.

“We miss so much without that camera,” he said in a recent conversation. “You’re not going to take it all in.”

It’s so true. I even find it difficult sometimes to take in all the details in a strong photograph. Alumbaugh’s series on the 2011 Occupy Oakland protests is a good example. The faces, the signs, the reflections, the grit and grime — so much to see and feel. Although the images were taken six years ago, they could have easily been shot at the recent marches in Reno. I attended the Reno March on Washington and, with more than 10,000 people participating, I’m pleased that photographers, both amateur and professional, were capturing it. We must see it all — that which makes us laugh, cry and squirm.

So, I was surprised when I heard that a woman who visited Homage voiced her concern about one of Alumbaugh’s photographs that has the word “fuck” scrawled on the sidewalk with chalk. Not only did she demand that they remove the photograph, she then went on a social networking site, complaining when they asked her to leave the coffeehouse.

“We’re not going to take anything down,” Alumbaugh said. “I don’t feel that any of the work here is over the line. We’ve had full nudes and no one has complained.”

I applaud his stance. What’s at stake here is more censorship of art. The protests are bound to continue and photographers must be able to document that.

“We’re coming to a point in time we haven’t had in a long time,” he said. “We’re going to see some incredible work. Protests are going to turn into conflict and I think it’s extremely crucial to capture that.”

Howard Goldbaum, who teaches photography in the Reynolds School of Journalism, said that while a publication might have its own editorial policy that could cause the omission of a certain photograph, the photographer should always go after the shot.

“As a photojournalist, I am responsible for taking the photographs, obscenities and all,” he said. “While we must remain sensitive to the feelings of those who are experiencing trauma and tragedy, we should never censor our shooting. As W.E. Smith said, ‘let truth be the prejudice.’”

My concerns about censorship go beyond photographing protests and its messages. It’s visual art, performance art, theater and literary. In the past two years, I’ve seen it happen at two major local arts institutions — the Nevada Museum of Art and Artown.

In May 2015, the museum cordoned Erika Harrsch’s exhibit that included a room with around 60,000 printed Monarch butterflies blanketing the floor because someone complained that the body of the butterfly was the image of female genitalia. Now, I have one of the butterflies in my bathroom and know that whoever complained really had to examine it up close. But, instead of using it as an opportunity to have meaningful conversation about procreation and genitalia, museum administrators decided to limit the impact of the exhibit by restricting access.

In that same year, one of Franz Szony’s images was selected to be the Artown poster. Szony was alarmed when he was asked to modify the image, removing the nude nymphs. Luckily, the original image was on display during July at Sierra Arts Foundation and limited-edition, signed copies of the original poster were sold. Local institutions and business should not be fearful offending someone. Thank you, Vernon Alumbaugh!

If I walked through the rooms in any of the major museums in the world, I would see works that were once considered scandalous and immoral. I treasured glancing at Gustave Courbet’s painting “The Origin of the World” in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, painted a century and a half before Brazilians became popular.

Artists must continue to practice freedom of expression, and I hope they are not limiting themselves and their artwork for fear of being offensive. Author Henry Louis Gates said, “Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”

Recently, a University of Nevada, Reno art student told me he censored his art project, which included homosexual content, so he wouldn’t have to deal with the criticism. My soul wept. We must not unnerve our artists. We cannot have them playing it safe.

Art is a vital component of a healthy urban ecosystem. And that’s what our city wants. We must continue to look at, hear, and read works of art that make us uncomfortable. Let’s truly be a creative community and use the arts as an opportunity to confront the uncomfortable issues, not censor them.


Geralda Miller, 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.


“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:  


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.


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



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.



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.”


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.”


“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.”


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.


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.


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

What’s Next?

As a journalist, I never attended a Reno City Council meeting. Over the years, I’d hear newsroom stories about the colorful characters that had become fixtures in Council chambers. But there was no reason for me to attend.

Because of Art Spot’s commitment to extend the reach of the arts culture into our community, I’ve spoken to them twice in the past five months. The first time, former councilwoman Sharon Zadra asked us to tell them how Art Spot Reno is participating in Reno’s economic redevelopment. And in February, I gave public comment in support of the Generator’s proposal to lease land near Dickerson Road from the city for $1 a year, for five years. The Generator also would have a three-year option to buy the land for $860,000 without having to go to public bid for the parcels.

I told City Council I think Reno is poised to become a culturally vibrant city and a true arts destination. I also said Reno should be a hotbed of creativity that will power innovations across economic sectors. A creative community workspace, like the Generator Phase 2, would help make this happen.

Matt Schultz, the Genny’s Executive Director, is part of a team that wants to turn an empty plot near the railroad tracks into a sculpture park with tiny artist-in-residence housing, and a 50,000 square-foot industrial arts and invention center. He wants to place a large Spanish-style ship constructed for Burning Man 2012, called Pier 2, on the property and rebuild a sculpture called Embrace that was built and burned last year at Burning Man. Pier 2 is 60 feet long, 20 feet tall at the tip of its keel, and 12 feet wide with a 60 foot main mast. He also wants to include a selection of temporary sculptures. I hope that includes Kate Raudenbush’s Dual Nature, which is in a nearby storage.

I’ve attended Burning Man for the past seven years, so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some spectacular art on the playa. And for the past two years, I’ve given art tours. As I said in a previous blog, last year I had plenty art built by local artists to brag about, including the 62-feet-high couple that were in an embrace. The piece was impressive in scale and it filled me with pride to say it was built at the Generator, but aesthetically, it wasn’t my favorite piece on the playa. Instead of rebuilding it, I’d personally rather see what’s next.

Matt’s vision raised some concerns from neighbors, one who has been using the vacant property to access his warehouse and another who has been using some of it for parking. And then there was the owner of another local arts group who raised the “what ifs.” What if Matt’s California-based funder pulls out and these artists are left high and dry with no place else to go, Tim Conder, co-founder of Cuddleworks, posed in the Reno News & Review article.

Hmmm…am I the only one who remembers the Salvagery from a few years ago? Not that I think that would happen, but I’ve seen these resilient artists move from a space on Fourth Street to a place near Park Lane Theaters, while another group started Reno Art Works on Dickerson Road. And then came the Generator in Sparks. Because a group of artist got together to paint pianos for Artown at the Salvagery, thank you Dave Aiazzi, we now have two great artist spaces. So I’m not too concerned and spending much time asking ‘what if.’

I also think Paul Buchheit, the inventor of Gmail and the Generator’s major donor, makes an important point that our City Council and community needs to pay attention to. He told the Reno News & Review: “This is obviously a project that we’ve invested a lot of time and everything else into, so I want it to be a success,” he said. “I want to see it be a success, and to me this is the next stage in that evolution. I think that it’s an opportunity for Reno and the whole community to create something that has really never existed. … What’s most important to me is to see that community support. It has to come from the community, ultimately. I can help out in my own way, but ultimately, really, the whole thing comes from the community. It’s just a matter of giving that extra little push from the start.” If this isn’t a wake-up call, I don’t know what is!

Since sitting in that four-hour city council meeting, I’ve spent time, thinking about writing this blog and conveying the real impact I think the Generator will make on our city. This isn’t just another fun warehouse in which to have parties. This is a center that will change the cityscape and how people think about our city. Most importantly, it will change how Reno thinks about Reno. Yes, it is a three-month hub for international creative building for Burning Man. But at the end of the day, it’s me, you, and our children who will be benefiting most from what the Generator has to offer as a year-round creative center.

City Council tabled the land deal, asking Matt for more information. It will be discussed again on Wednesday, March 25. I hope to see all of you who believe Reno can be an arts destination at City Council chambers. And send your councilman/woman a message, letting them know you favor using this land for the Generator. (schieveh@reno.gov, bobziend@reno.gov, BrekhusJ@reno.gov, DuerrN@reno.gov, delgadoo@reno.gov,mckenziep@reno.gov, Jardonn@reno.gov)

Do we want this or not? Do we want something that will truly be part of Reno’s cultural evolution or do we want to sit back and ask what if?

I say, instead of asking what if, let’s ask why not!


We heard you!

When my business partner and I re-launched Art Spot Reno last year, our objective was to have a kick-ass website that would become the hub for finding out what’s happening in the Reno arts community. I think we’ve accomplished that. But after attending the Artists Forum last week and hearing the comments, it was evident that we’ve not done a good enough job getting the word out about what we’ve got going on here.

I heard several people voice concern that the local newspaper no longer has an arts calendar. It was quite apparent to me that was imminent, which is why we’ve got a thorough and up-to-date calendar of arts events. Please use it and tell your friends about it. This should become your go-to for finding out what’s happening. I guarantee after you peruse the calendar, you’ll agree with our slogan that there’s More Art Everywhere. And contact us if we’re missing something.

We’ve got 14 different categories, but I’m beginning to think we missed one — calls to artists. There are some great opportunities coming up for artists and I want to make sure as many as possible know about them. Since deadlines are looming for these, I’m going to tell you about the ones I know. I also heard several artists voice concern at the forum that Reno’s needs more arts patrons, buying their work. Well, the flip side to that is: you’ve got to keep creating work and showing it. I’ll see you at the next Artist Forum, which will be April 16th at the Generator.

Here’s what I know:

The Gateway

The Gateway Project is commissioning 25 sculptures, made from at least one bicycle, which will be displayed around town during Artown and auctioned at a gala in October. Selected artists will get $500 and 10 percent of the final auction price to help cover costs. The deadline has been moved to WEDNESDAY, March 4. For details: visit https://www.facebook.com/renogatewayproject, or http://renogatewayproject.com/.


Circus Circus Reno 24-Hour Mural Marathon

Circus Circus has opened its call for artists to participate in the 24-hour Mural Marathon. Seven muralists get a wall to showcase their work. The artists will compete for prize money, $2,000 to the first place winner, $1,000 to the second place winner and $500 to the third place winner. Each artist receives a $750 stipend to pay for paint and materials. The competition begins at 10 a.m. on July 10th and ends at 10 a.m. July 11th. Submission are due no later than midnight April 16. For details, visit: http://www.circusreno.com/entertainment/mural-marathon.aspx.



The City of Reno is seeking artists for the 4th annual Art BLAST, a juried art fair and gallery show held at McKinley Arts and Culture Center on Sept. 4 and 5. The booth fee for selected artists is $50.00, but there is no fee to apply. The deadline for entries is April 10. For details, visit: http://www.reno.gov/home/showdocument?id=48526.


Geralda Miller, Curator

Geralda Miller, Curator

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

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