Transforming a Gallery into a Sanctuary

Justin Favela and Geralda

Justin Favela is always thinking about space. And as a queer, Latino, he’s looking for a safe space.

“I think about it a lot in my work,” he said during a recent interview over coffee and croissant at Homage Bakery, which is one of my favorites.

Favela is an emerging artist from Las Vegas who draws his influences from pop culture and his Guatemalan/Mexican heritage.

When Eric Brooks, curator at Sierra Arts Gallery, told Justin he could do whatever he wanted, Justin decided to construct a space — a sanctuary for those in the LGBTQ community and for people of color. Using a popular queer icon, he built one of the most perceived safe places he could — a convent.

Using reams of tissue and toilet paper, aluminum foil, and cellophane, he built a colorful installation that’s based on scenes from the films “Sister Act,”The Sound of Music,” and “Dark Habits.” He said these movies are part of the queer canon and feature the convent as a sanctuary. What about “Two Mules for Sister Sara?”

Covering every inch of the gallery with tissue flowers and piñata-like decoration, Justin was successful in making a space that provides a sense of security, even if it’s false. (Yes, I’m a former Roman Catholic who was taught by nuns — and spent a lot of time in detention.)

“After seeing Justin’s installation and meeting him during Tilting the Basin exhibition at the NMA in 2016, I knew he would be a perfect fit for the Sierra Arts Gallery,” Brooks said. “We are delighted to host such an unconventional and far-reaching installation from May 5 to 27.”

The gallery is fun and reminded me of one of my birthday parties where I had tissue paper decoration and smashed a piñata. I’ve seen “Sister Act” and “The Sound of Music,” but would not have connected the installation to the movies or as a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community and people of color.   

Brooks suggested I find out what a gay person thought of the exhibit, which I did.

“As a black queer, I believe the exhibition definitely exudes a sense of liberation, maybe not especially to the LGBTQ or POC communities, but most certainly to women of color, which I feel is extremely underrepresented, if not more than other communities,” said artist DePaul Vera. “An overall appreciation of femininity was present (besides literal images of women of color on display) the show used a lot of floral components and festive materials that created an accepting environment.”

A graduate of the University of Reno, Las Vegas with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Justin said some in the academic arena question whether his work should be labeled craft or folk art, based on materials, aesthetics or the artist’s education.

“I just love fucking with the system like that,” he said. “I like to blur the lines and mess with those notions. It’s about representation. It’s about visibility.”

Justin spent two weeks in Reno, installing the exhibit. It wasn’t his first time in Reno, but he said it was his first time to really pay attention to the city and its racial makeup.

“It’s very white here,” he said. “I’m experiencing Reno with a different lens this time. As artists, we can’t ignore it anymore.”

I definitely want to go back and experience this exhibit without it being as packed as it was last week during the opening night reception. I’ll be bi-curious to see if this quiet visit will bring me the sense of security that was Justin’s intent for minorities.


Geralda Miller, Curator

A Gay, Black UNR Student Finds His Voice Through His Art

I remember when I first met DePaul Vera.

I can’t tell you anything about the art exhibit on display at the Sheppard Gallery that evening in the fall semester of 2015, but I can tell you that DePaul was sharply dressed, even sporting a bow tie. A black man wearing a bow tie in Reno. I must have flashed back to my years living in Boston and Philadelphia where that was a common occurrence. But not in casual Reno. He was someone I wanted to meet.

I was excited to hear he was an MFA student at the University of Nevada, Reno. I also was fearful how a black, gay man from western Kentucky would be treated, both on campus and out of the university bubble. With a big smile and even bigger personality, he was energetic and eager to delve into his art. He said his goal was to find his voice and discover, through his art, his mission.

“I just want to assert my existence in a white society,” DePaul said during our interview.

But his first show didn’t do that. His first exhibit was drawings of white men in the pop, comic-book style of Roy Lichtenstein. Nowhere in any of those drawings did I see an image like DePaul. He got backlash from his professors, some saying it wasn’t art and others calling it pornography.

DePaul said his committee chair, Paul Baker Prindle, began to challenge him to find his blackness.

“Paul asked me why is a black, gay man from the South only drawing white bodies,” he said. “I don’t know, Paul. Let me figure that out.”

Prindle challenged DePaul to learn African American history to have a better understanding of who he was. So, DePaul began to read an assortment of books, including James Baldwin, W.E.B. DuBois, Stuart Hall, and Tracy Morgan.

“It wasn’t until I accepted my race and identity that I could finally find my voice,” he said.

In his next show, I began to see his voice, especially his Southern Baptist roots. “Hereafter” was a collection of collages of male nudes that included black silhouettes. I was critical of the sloppy cut out work and the grammatical error in his artist statement, but this exhibit was a good move in the right direction toward finding his identity.

It was evident to me that Prindle was a strong, positive influence.

One of the things that has been meaningful to me as the Chairperson of DePaul’s MFA committee is that he has come in to an awareness–a deep awareness–of what it means to be Black and Gay in our world,” Prindle said. “To see a student–any student, but especially students of color–become self-aware and to connect that awareness to the formation of their research practice and their life practice, is so satisfying and meaningful. Seeing DePaul come into his own is worth more than gold.”

After this body of work, DePaul began the conflation of the blackness, homosexuality, and the civil rights movement. And then last summer there was the deadly protest by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, which included a widely-publicized UNR student. DePaul said he had to make something. The result was the hauntingly beautiful archived image of the Ku Klux Klan, with their arms extended, standing in front of a burning cross. But DePaul manipulated it, adding a naked black man facing them while holding a beach ball. It’s a self-portrait.

“How would I embrace the Klan?” he said. “It’s about to be on!”

And it was about to be on with his art. Using images from his collection, he fused black and white men with social and political issues.

Another moving image is of an interracial male couple embracing on a bed, with the words “Let Freedom Ring” tattooed and the back of the white man. Now, I can hear DePaul’s voice!

Now, it’s time for DePaul’s thesis exhibition – “My Soul to Keep.” It will run from April 16 to April 26 at Student Galleries South, which is in the Jot Travis Building.

He said we’re going to see his black identity and history surrounded by the societal perimeter he has had to navigate. Looking back over the past two and a half years, DePaul said he had no idea what he was getting into and if it had not been for Prindle, he would have left.

“I can’t imagine anyone else on my committee being able to handle this content,” he said.

Prindle said he applauds DePaul for the “audacity of the installation and his bravery in tackling overlapping social/cultural topics and values that can be very messy and hard to sort through.”

“His work today is tackling incredibly challenging content that I think is so useful to our society’s continued development,” Prindle said. “He is sharing his observations and struggles with a community who are engaging with him and his work in part because the work is so good and in part because he is so generous with his viewers. We need more humans in this world who are willing to be vulnerable and open to dialogue.”

DePaul will be leaving Reno after he graduates, and I’m not surprised. He said he has found Reno to be as conservative as Kentucky and not much in the gay community.

Perhaps that made it easier for him to focus on his art and find solace in his studio.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch DePaul find his voice and let it ring through his art. I must agree with his final words about this exhibit and make them my final words on this:

“Reno needs to see this. Reno needs this.”


Geralda Miller, Curator


Photo taken by David Hill.

Let’s Help Send “Maya’s Mind” to D.C.

“Maya’s Mind” is going to the Smithsonian.
This is a very big deal! How many Reno artists have had their work featured in a major exhibit at the world’s largest museum? And so, I must congratulate Mischell “Phoenix” Riley for tirelessly pouring her heart and soul into sculpting this 24-feet-tall monument of Maya Angelou.
It debuted at the Black Rock Desert for Burning Man 2017, and now the 6,000-pound, acid-stained concrete bust will be on exhibit outside of the Renwick Gallery building from March 30 to Jan. 21, 2019 for “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.”
As I write this blog on the final day of Black History Month, I can’t help but recollect the significance of having this bust at the weeklong festival and the impact I felt seeing it every day. Also, one of my most memorable, and tearful, Burning moments last year was with Phoenix. More on that in a moment.
Several articles have been written about the scarcity of black people that attend the event. According to 2016 census figures, only 1 percent of the approximate 70,000 people who enjoyed all the fun and art were black. (That’s a measly 700 people. Let’s add Maya and make that 701!) And there are even fewer black artists who take their artwork to this spectacular art event, let alone get paid to have it out there. Although she isn’t African American, I was thrilled that Phoenix decided to sculpt this great African American author and poet.
Phoenix said she chose Angelou because of the author’s story of triumph over pain and struggle. Angelou was sexually assaulted as a child by a family member and as a result, spent years as a mute. It is a pain and reaction to it that Phoenix said she related to.
“I used my art to grow out of that and escape,” she said.
Which brings me to my memorable Burning Man moment of 2017.
I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a three-person team that gives the Meet the Artist Tour, which is aired live on Burning Man’s radio station at Black Rock City. I enjoy bragging about all the Reno art and artists that show their work at Burning Man, so I asked Phoenix to talk on-air about her sculpture and read her favorite poem by Ms. Angelou.
I didn’t realize it but Phoenix has a severe reading disability. But in true Angelou fashion, she mustered up the courage and agreed to read “Still I Rise” if I would help her. So, we alternated reading stanzas and I assisted with challenging words. And together we read the last three lines – I rise. I rise. I rise. Listen here to our on-the-playa interview.
For Phoenix, Maya Angelou is an inspiration because of how she rose to become a powerful and successful woman.
“She is a pillar of strength,” Phoenix said in her Hatchfund video. “She is my life. It is an honor to work on her. I want that strength to show through in this monument.”
Not only is it a powerful sculpture but Phoenix also has shown us just how strong she is.
Maya’s Mind will be on the grounds of this magnificent museum in Washington, D.C. for all to see. But Phoenix still needs to raise some money to transport and install it. The Smithsonian gave her $18000 but the total budget is $26,000. To date, she’s raised a little more than half. Let’s show Phoenix, and the Smithsonian, just how proud we are of her ability to rise above her personal struggles and become such a successful Reno artist by donating to her Hatchfund.


Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

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

Another boring night in Reno…not any more!

As another year comes to an end with the winter’s coat approaching, it’s a time to sit by the fire and decide which of the holiday festivities to end 2016. An abundance of holiday arts and craft pop-ups  are around town, as well as musical, theatrical and dance performances to delight all ages.

Two of my favorites over the years have been the A.V.A. Ballet Theatre’s popular “Nutcracker,” and Bruka Theater’s hilarious “Buttcracker.” I’ve enjoyed the Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus’ spirited concert. And I’ve purchased locally-made gifts at the annual Holland Project’s Rogue Art+Craft holiday market and Wedge Ceramics Studio’s annual Chilly Cash & Carry.

Although I’ve confessed in one of my blogs that I’m not a David Sedaris fan, this year I’m definitely going to go see “The Santaland Diaries” at Reno Little Theater and the Holiday Bizarre Bazaar, which is held prior to weekend performances. I wonder what unusual finds will be there from some of Reno’s most interesting artisans.

These opportunities allow time to engage with the artists and find unique gifts for everyone on the list. No better afternoon than skipping the lines at the mall and enjoying a cultural experience, while reflecting on those closest to the heart.

One way I keep everything in order is to make a calendar. Have you recently visited the most extensive arts and culture calendar in northern Nevada? We relaunched Art Spot Reno nearly three years ago because of the need for a one-stop shop for all the arts activities happening around our city.

Reno loves the arts. With five theaters, the only accredited museum in Nevada, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, two ballet troupes, four major galleries and more than 40 local businesses showcasing regional artists on a rotating basis. You would be hard pressed to walk into a restaurant, bar or salon without seeing original art. But there was a void in the community for an easy and fast way to acquire the details on Reno’s arts events, and became the solution.

Art Spot Reno is the primary resource on music, visual art, dance and theater, we included literary, film, culinary, fashion, performance art, and healing arts. You can specifically search for artists receptions, Burner events, calls to artists, and all the Artown events found in the Little Book.

This calendar was designed and is updated daily for you to get the most enjoyment out of the tremendously talented mass or artists, dancers, musicians, performers and more. While it’s true that we get a a lot of questions and messages from visitors coming here from all over the world, this calendar is for you.

The holiday season is here and there’s plenty to do around town. So, please peruse and use the calendar. Go see a show, concert, art reception and fall in love with what this community is offering.

For the rest of December, when you are at an event, take a photo and post it on our Facebook page with #morearteverywhere to be entered into a very special contest. 

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday full of egg nog and mistletoe hanging in all the right spots.

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

What’s An Artist’s Worth?

Be authentic and buy local art

I’m sitting at my desk, thinking about this blog I’ve wanted to write all week. Sometimes the words easily flow and other times I just have to wait. So, I sit.

And then…I looked up above my monitor and began to stare at the beautiful encaustic wax monotype print on Japanese paper by Amelia Currier. This was not my first piece by my good friend, but my third. The first was a brightly colored encaustic painting I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. In addition to the colors, I was drawn to the abstract collage of found objects she incorporated into the piece. It was much more than I could afford on my reporter’s salary 13 years ago, but we worked out a payment plan. That was the first piece of art I bought from a Reno artist. I remember how excited I was to find the perfect spot on my wall to showcase it. Unfortunately, the piece didn’t wear well over the years and cracked. The monotype above my computer was its replacement. The second piece I own by Currier I spotted at a silent auction and won by placing the highest bid.  

I now can walk the few rooms in my small home and enjoy the works of several Reno artists. Jill Glenn’s paintings never fail to take me on a far-away journey. I laugh and ponder when looking at Eunkang Koh’s characters that are part human and part animal. And now my black-girl series has grown to four paintings – a beautiful woman Ahren Hertel had in a show at Record Street Café, the silhouette of a sassy woman by Josie Luciano, a woman seated on a chair in only her white panties by Traci Turner, and Lisa Kurt’s painting of a brave little girl in the forest with the animals. And there are others.

I’m not trying to boast because I’ve walked into homes here in Reno and my mouth has dropped, admiring their local art collections. I remember sitting in Dave Aiazzi’s living room while interviewing him only to be distracted by all the magnificent art on the walls. (Thank goodness I taped the interview!) Carla Knight invited me to the home she shares with Remi Jourdan one night last year to play bunco. It was so much fun to move from room to room, enjoying the art that I didn’t mind losing my money at this game of luck.   

I’d like to think I have much in common with these friends. But there is one thing I know we definitely share and that’s our interest in buying local art. I’ve not talked to them about why they support our local artists, I only applaud them for doing so. And I applaud everyone else in Reno who is doing this. You’re keeping your money in our local economy, supporting and investing in a small business (the artist), and you own something very unique. Dorm room posters don’t need to be the start of your art collection. You are more authentic than that!

There are plenty of opportunities to buy local art and become an local arts patron. Art Spot Reno has a calendar highlighting the many art exhibits happening around town. Silent auctions at fundraisers are a great way to purchase art and support a great cause. My favorite is the Sheppard Gallery’s Valentine Auction, which is held every two years. Another great event is happening this weekend and that’s Art Blast. The 5th Annual Visual Art Blast Exhibition and Fair, held Sept. 16th and 17th at McKinley Arts & Culture Center, is an outdoor art fair put on by the City of Reno’s Arts and Culture Commission that features 19 regional artists. Roam the tents and meet the artists, whose work covers a wide variety of mediums. This is a great way to see a variety of styles and find the ones you like most.

My walls are filling up and pretty soon I’m going to have to go salon style or start rotating my art. This definitely is a first world problem that I am proud to have. I hope to see lots of people at Art Blast, either adding to their collections or purchasing their very first piece of local art. Let’s make this an important part in Reno’s art movement.


Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

Geralda Miller, Art Spot Reno Curator

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