Canvas the city

Bryce Chisholm

Painter Bryce Chisholm with his work at the Sierra Arts Gallery

Painter Bryce Chisholm with his work at the Sierra Arts Gallery

Photo/Niabi Dann

Battle Born Hues runs through March 28 at Sierra Arts Gallery, 17 S. Virginia St., with an artist's reception at 5 p.m. on March 20. For more information, visit

For artist Bryce Chisholm, the creative process isn’t a nebulous glop of critique, theory and emotional definitions.

A painting is a painting.

“In art school, we always tried to overthink everything,” says the University of Nevada, Reno grad, his words lightened by the sort of grin that says he probably liked art school, nonetheless.

“It was always, ’Tell me what you’re feeling, or why you’re doing this.’”

He shrugs.

“I’m to the point where I’m like, ’I’m just doing this. I’m putting color on a canvas. I don’t want it to be blank anymore.’”

The 36-year-old father of two is also to the point where he’s quit his day job to make his affordable, street-inspired paintings and stencil work.

His Northwest Reno studio is stacked to the rafters with projects, and his calendar is just as full: A dozen shows last year, if you’re counting, with “five or six” already under his belt in 2014. And that’s to say nothing of his commissioned art, which covers everything from skateboards and album jackets to city storm drains.

Chisholm’s latest exhibition, Battle Born Hues, runs through March 28 at the Sierra Arts Gallery. It’s a big one for him, and an ode to all things Nevadan in honor of the sesquicentennial.

Silver State iconography figures in, of course, as do landscapes, influential characters and some coy women—starlets, showgirls and friends of his, caught forever in acrylic spray paint. Native animals are in his lens, too, from the mustang to the mountain bluebird to the desert tortoise.

“It’s the state reptile,” Chisholm says of the latter, which he’s rendered on a small canvas with a Confederate cap on its back. “No one knows about that, but it really is.”

The Reno native has honed his craft since doodles filled the margins of his grade-school notebooks, but he hasn’t been big in the arts scene for long. It was just a couple of years ago that he got his launch, more or less, through a local chapter of the RAW Artists collective, which caters to independent performers, artists, filmmakers and others around the globe.

International contacts have actually been key for Chisholm, who often sells work under the moniker ABC ArtAttack, via his webpage on Deviant Art, He self-promotes when he has to, especially through social networking.

“The synergy of local artists in this area working together to create a more beautiful community while ’making a living’ is commendable, and not seen in many bigger cities with entrenched cliques,” says Kathleen Eagan, a fan and buyer of Chisholm’s work, which “combines color, whimsy and movement with pop culture and media images, creating fresh visual and social perspectives for our generation.”

Chisholm is a collaborator, she added in an email, and a mentor to his peers. Civically motivated, too.

“He is more than an artist, he is a person in the community who I respect,” Eagan says. “One who works tirelessly with the red tape of publically funded projects to beautify our town for his children and our children, like the storm drains down by the waterfront.”

And yes, those are his.

“We’re proud to have his work in our gallery,” says Sierra Arts executive director Stacey Spain, who plans to nab the tortoise painting for her own collection.

“Part of it is the idea that you have the artist connection,” she says, “and part of it is that you have a visceral connection to the art. It brings you joy. I think it’s OK for a piece of artwork to just bring you joy.”

Even if it’s just color on canvas.