Artists work at play

Nothing to Hide

UNR art student Pete Froslie programs Etch-A-Sketches to draw by themselves.

UNR art student Pete Froslie programs Etch-A-Sketches to draw by themselves.

Photo By David Robert

Turn right onto Evans Avenue from Fourth Street just after Louis’ Basque Corner restaurant, and, if you’re not looking for it, you’ll probably drive right by. But Bleu Lion Art Gallery is just that kind of place: out of the main, something to seek out, a small venue where disciplined artists display their work for the informed and the curious.

Co-owner Chad Sorg explains that the gallery operates on a shoestring. By avoiding administrative costs, he and his business partners—wife Amy Sorg and Max Ezra—can focus their energy on displaying art that’s often outside the mainstream. To spread the word about exhibits, which run only on select Fridays and Saturdays, Bleu Lion (formerly Blue Lyon—the name changed slightly when the gallery changed hands a few years ago) relies on local press and e-mail lists. Sorg plans to begin leasing basement studio spaces to artists soon to help pay the overhead, which goes mostly to rent.

The most popular shows, repeated annually, are the well-known “XXXposed,” featuring adult entertainers and exotic dancers, and “AfterBurn,” displaying art and photographs from Burning Man.

The current exhibit features the Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis shows of three University of Nevada, Reno art students in their mid-20s. In conversation—and in their artwork—each artist reveals a strong artistic commitment and an interest in the audience.

Chris Bauder’s sculptural work explores themes of communication and relationships and the potential for both to be impaired. The bottles, rings and other elements in the sculpture “Top Shelf” are rich with references—to phallic symbols involving varying levels of potency, marriage, ring toss and other games—and insinuate alcoholism, divorce, sexual dysfunction, lack of communication, gender and sexual stereotypes.

Then there is the at-times-humorous, at-times-socially-critical art of Gabe Toci. His sculptures feature birds, some poking out from simple spheres to say hello in “Hola X 3,” some morphing into shrunken-skull heads, representing the work of the “Headhunters” for which that work is named and symbolizing Toci’s own “entrapment with vices like smoking and pollution.” “Lucid” pokes kind fun at people Toci likes by showing mini likenesses of them and their artwork.

Most lighthearted of the three artists’ work is the play of Pete Froslie. Using Slinkies, comic books, and robotically powered trucks that draw and erase, Froslie lets the toys expose technology for how it works. For example, his “Etch A Sketch_Machine” draws on its own and erases enough of the graphite powder inside to expose the Etch-A-Sketches’ inner machinery.

He says his is a “video game generation, hyperactive and automated.” As a self-described technology artist and computer geek, Froslie enjoys baring the imperfection of the automation so central to the world of his peers. His work reveals that through play. All four of his pieces invite you to laugh, listen, touch and enjoy.

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Benefit flick

“It’s an amazing experience to take direction from professionals on Broadway,” reports Reno High School junior Jessica Maddox. Last year, about 20 students traveled to New York City to see Broadway plays, tour the Apollo Theater’s backstage and ask actors and dancers about life in the biz.

To help students hit the Big Apple again this year, Reno High will host a benefit screening of Wear Something Nice, a short film directed by Titanic visual effects producer Camille Cellucci, preceded by snacks and an animated short, Thursday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m., 395 Booth St. Tickets are $50. Call 333-5050 to reserve.