Marjorie Vecchio is the gallery director of the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Sheppard Gallery is one of a handful of local arts organizations and artists collaborating on an art auction to benefit Devin Hosselkus, a local artist who is currently undergoing chemo therapy because of a life-threatening cancer. The auction will be held at Studio on 4th, 432 E. Fourth St., on Sunday, May 3, beginning at 2 p.m. Over 50 artists have donated pieces.
Tell me a little bit about Devin.
Devin is a recent University of Nevada, Reno art department BFA graduate. He graduated last May. And he was one of our more successful students in lots of different ways. For example, he won the dean’s award for artistry. … Also, he was commissioned by the city of Reno to do a public mural, which I think is sort of unusual for his age. He’s only 24 now, so he’d have been 23 when that gig came up … that’s across from City Hall. Also, Devin worked with Youth ArtWorks—he was a lead teacher last summer. … And also he had just been awarded—actually it was supposed to be this month, in April—a Vermont Studio School residency for artists, which for his age to get—they pay for him and he’d been out there for a month on his own—so it was sort of a mature thing for him to get, not having gone to a master’s program. Really super impressive.
What’s his work like?
His work is—he’s very socially concerned. He cares a lot about how the family unit can actually inspire … how young people grow up to be mature, socially conscious, caring individuals. He cares a lot about that. His mother used to work for the city, so I think that’s where some of that comes from. He’s both a painter and an installation artist.
What was his role at the gallery?
At the gallery, he was my main preparator. … He was totally amazing in that role. Every single exhibition I did—he made that show happen. Like if we had three rooms that needed to be built, Devin did it. … He was also very popular with all of the artists coming in. We had over 50 people in the last two-and-a-half years, and they all remember Devin. We actually have people submitting [artwork] to his art auction benefit who have shown here, who have nothing to do with Reno, who live in New York or live somewhere else. He even made an impression on them.
Tell me a little bit about his illness and the auction.
OK. In … October or November, Devin started complaining to me in the gallery about his leg hurting, and he thought maybe he was crouching a lot when he was making this new body of work and maybe he had pulled something or whatever. He’d mention it, and I’d sort of forget about it, and then he’d mention it. … Basically, when he got some real doctors on his case, that’s when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. Ewing’s sarcoma is a disease that primarily happens in young men or young boys … it’s a DNA switching problem … when a growth spurt occurs, and there’s a weird thing. So it’s almost always on the leg, so his is on the femur, and it’s almost always cancer. So there’s a tumor there, and the biggest problem is that it’s metastasized to the lungs.
Yeah. So that’s why it’s very serious. It’s life-threatening. It’s serious, and he is in San Francisco, getting exceptional care with a lot of doctors who are on the forefront of research for Ewing’s sarcoma. He gets chemo treatments every two weeks. … He commutes. That’s part of the reason we’re trying to raise money for them—forget the medical bills, they’re paying $2,000 a month just for transport and living arrangements there. … And that’s going to happen for 30 weeks—and that’s only if nothing goes wrong. He’s been responding really well to chemo, which is great. And I’ve seen him, and emotionally, he’s doing really well. He’s very strong. He’s going to start making work again. … He’ll have to have 15 sessions, he’s only had four.