A day

The Nevada Museum of Art has big plans for the remainder of the year

Ann Wolfe and a carpet design from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen line project.

Ann Wolfe and a carpet design from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen line project.

Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Ann Wolfe offers some insights into how and why certain exhibitions and artists’ work are chosen for exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art, giving a broader context to the shows and experiences the viewer can expect to have.

“We aim to create a balance and serve different interests,” Wolfe explains. “We want to keep things fresh and innovative, and give people experiences that they didn’t expect. We always want to tempt people to return. ”

Part of the museum’s long-term mission has been to explore art and the environment. This serves as the driving force behind the Altered Landscapes collection, as well as that behind some of this year’s biggest efforts including the Chris Drury exhibition and the Art + Environment Conference.

One of the ways the museum keeps things fresh is by bringing in young emerging artists. This year will see some exciting exhibitions of lesser-known talents working in innovative mediums and creating cutting-edge art.

Design—both as a topic and a method of exhibition—also plays a part in many of the museum’s show choices. The forthcoming Frank Lloyd Wright and Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag exhibitions are good examples of this. The NMA occasionally brings in outside designers to plan shows. This serves to bring new vision and voice to the exhibits. Case in point, Long May She Wave will be designed by Kit Hinrichs, one of the world’s leading graphic designers and owner of the collection.

Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful
Put simply, briefly, Frank Lloyd Wright has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects, among others, as “the greatest American architect of all time.” This show, which runs April 19 through July 13, highlights an aspect of Wright’s interests—that design be integrated throughout the home, not just in the structure itself. From this comes the idea of treating the design of a home as an “organic whole.”

“We wanted to make the show relevant to today,” says Wolfe. “This exhibition highlights how Frank Lloyd Wright helped create the foundation of much of what is being practiced today in the realm of ‘green’ architecture and design.”

“Anti-War Placard,” by an unknown artist, part of the upcoming exhibit <i>Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag</i>.

The show will feature more than 100 original objects including accessories, textiles and furniture. In conjunction with the exhibition, Wright’s grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright, will give a talk about sustainable design.

Chris Drury: Mushrooms/Clouds
The solo exhibition Mushrooms/Clouds on show Aug. 9 through Oct. 5, will be British artist Chris Drury’s first major museum exhibition in the United States. Drury explores the interplay between nature and humans. And though he has been associated with other such Land Art artists such as Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Smithson, comparatively, Drury’s work tends more toward the conceptual. This exhibition brings together several entities: the museum, Desert Research Institute, For-Site Foundation in Nevada City, and the Paiute tribe. Drury will work with each to create site-specific and site-inspired work.

Specifically, Drury will re-construct his log/clay/grass dome-like structure “Log Chamber” at For-Site. The object will be transported to the museum where it will be displayed on the roof. With DRI, Drury has been exploring the Nevada Test Site searching for signs of life. The resultant discoveries, as processed through Drury’s artistic vision and creative voice, will be constructed in the museum. Finally, the collaboration with the Paiute tribe will result in a site-specific work in which the artist will create a whirlwind pattern—a symbol fraught with meaning—on the sand at Pyramid Lake. This is one of the largest and most multi-faceted projects the museum has taken on.

Art + Environment Conference
The Art + Environment Conference will take place Oct. 2-4. This event will explore the intersection between nature and culture, and why and how art has become a critical vehicle in understanding and investigating the environment.

“We’ve done our research,” Wolfe says, “and no other museum is exploring art and the environment like this.”

Internationally recognized writer/poet and scholar William Fox will moderate a group of roughly 17 presenters and panelists from around the country; expertise ranges from designers to artists, writers to scientists. Included among them: Jeff Gordinier, author of the recently-published X Saves the World; architect/artist Vito Acconci; Geoff Manaugh, founding editor of BLDGBLOG and senior editor of Dwell magazine; and Dr. W.J.T. Mitchell, Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago and editor of Critical Inquiry, a quarterly journal devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences.

“Log Chamber” by Chris Drury.

A series of separate exhibitions, including “Mushrooms/Clouds,” will run in coordination with the conference. There will also be several shows of work by emerging artists including: Dan Goods, a visual strategist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who creates immersive, experiential works; Margarita Cabrera, who, exploring ideas such as cultural inequities and border relations, will have on show hand-stitched replicas of Hummers; and Katie Holten, an Irish artist—this is her first solo exhibition in the United States—who investigates human impacts on the environment.

Long May She Wave: A Graphic History of the American Flag
“Long May She Wave” explores the design elements and interpretations of that most patriotic of American symbols, the Stars and Stripes, Oct. 25 through Feb. 15, 2009. The exhibit will feature almost 5,000 flag-related objects and artifacts related to our national banner—dolls, buttons, quilts, original flag art, historic flags, and more—all culled from Kit Hinrichs’ private collection.

Small Gems
In addition to blockbuster shows and events, the NMA will feature a number of notable smaller exhibitions in 2008 worth putting on the calendar. Among them, several exhibits culled from the museum permanent Altered Landscapes collection including “Some Dry Space” (Sept. 13, 2008 through Jan. 4, 2009), a showing of aerial photographs of “abused” landscapes by Michael Light.