The fourth annual NadaDada art event will feature some major changes, including a move away from its iconic venue
How do you define something that, by its very nature, resists clarity, set meaning and boundaries?
Now in its fourth year, NadaDada Motel is once again opening its doors—the doors of rooms in six motels and two bars in downtown Reno—to any and all interested in seeing, hearing, feeling, and otherwise participating in the ever-changing event. (You must be 21 to venture into the bars.) Essentially, any artist—or non-artist—who wants to “get a room and make a show” can.
“NadaDada was always conceived as an organic kind of thing,” explains Reno artist SK James, describing the continual state of flux that marks the NadaDada event.
There is an element of anarchy to the whole thing. Similar to the 20th century Dada art movement from which part of its name derives, NadaDada embraces absurdity, nonsense, and rejection of prevailing standards. Whether this tongue-in-cheek aura comes from conscious effort or from ignorance—perhaps a bit of both—is all part of the show.
Dianna Sion, who was involved in the beginnings of NadaDada, says with a laugh, “There is no official.”
“We are proud of the fact that people just take it upon themselves,” says another original instigator, Chad Sorg. “There is no restriction that you have to go through us—or whoever. There is no committee. Everybody just does what they are passionate about.”Location, location, location
This year, things are different in at least one way. The original motel and icon of NadaDada Motel, El Cortez Hotel, is no longer the venue for this year’s event. Instead, the event will take place in six different motels on Arlington Avenue (Town House Motor Lodge, Star of Reno, Keno 1 and 2, Lido, In Town, and Super 8), two bars (Strega Bar and Trocadero Lounge in the El Cortez) and Oxbow Press printing press facility.
“There’s never been any central control, and what’s happening this year is a product of us being evicted from El Cortez,” says James.
Various NadaDada artists say there are no hard feelings.
“I definitely understand because we, oh, you know … we make some noise,” admits Sorg.
Bob Beck, the manager at El Cortez, said the owners made the decision because there was too much liability.
“There were too many problems,” says Beck. “That’s what it boils down to. There were people on the fire escape, minors drinking. It got out of control. The artists had regulated hours; they didn’t keep them.”
Despite the noise and inconveniences, the tenants at El Cortez may miss being host to the party.
“They liked it,” says Beck. “It was something new—lots to look at and people to talk to.”
The artists this year promise to provide the same kind of entertaining, thought-provoking art—even with the venue change.
“It always took place in a variety of venues,” says SK James. “It’s not very different. It’s just relocated.”The line-up
The new set-up this year has “expansion possibilities,” says Sorg. The spread-out nature of the 2010 iteration makes it more of a living, breathing entity and increases the chance of interaction. As many as 100 artists might participate, representing everything from sculpture, photography and painting to performance, digital media and installation. The presentations vary from traditional and mainstream to completely crazy and interactive. The atmosphere might be like a funhouse.
Even though the event is spread out among various venues, it is still contained. The motels are within four blocks of each other, and bicycle rickshaws will transport people from location to location (donations gladly accepted).
This year, three of the venues will have coordinated entertainment to go along with the “galleries” of art. On the first day, Thursday, June 17, there will be an opening ritual at the Town House Motor Lodge. The opening includes a state of NadaDada address given by “Dada Mayor” Erik Holland, a gong ceremony, puppetry on the balcony by Bernie Beauchamp, a welding demonstration given by Andy Mertz, and LED hula hoopers.
Friday the 18th, the Trocadero Lounge at the El Cortez will have a full line-up of performers. The $5 cover includes five bands and is the only part of NadaDada Motel 2010 that isn’t free. The night features Spike McGuire, Wyndel—a spin-off of the Sturdy Beggars playing Celtic rock—Xtevion from Schizopolitans, George Pickard from The Atomiks, and DJ Terrain spinning until 2 a.m.
Strega Bar will host Saturday night’s entertainment, titled 5 Rooms at the Witch (5-RAW).
“NadaDada Strega is the one that I think will be over the top,” says Sion, one of 10 artists participating in 5-RAW. “We’re going to have a full-blown, back alley bash.”
That night, the one-year anniversary of the marriage that happened last year at NadaDada Motel between Sion and Jill Marlene, the so-called marriage of visual and performance art, will be celebrated with live music, DJs, and performance and visual art by artists David Dory, Amy Huffman, SK James, Alex Lemus, Trelaine Lewis, Ricardo Olvera, Andrea Juillerat Olvera, Nino Paternostro and Ashlee Stone.
Oxbow Press will also host a print exchange and exhibition called Naughty; Taboo; Just Plain Wrong, featuring printmakers.Making the scene
“We have a really, really strong arts community here in Reno now,” says Sion. “People are being noticed now. NadaDada Motel is for any creative, artistic genius in any genre.”
“I didn’t even know I was an artist until four years ago,” says Trelaine Lewis. “I fell into the NadaDada by accident. But I still probably couldn’t get into a gallery with a machine gun. So this gives me an opportunity to look at what I’ve made.”
NadaDada has a DIY vibe. It’s been taken into the hands of the artists and the participants. Some of the artwork will be created on-site from the interactions that happen during the event. By showing up, you are participating. NadaDada is a happening. It’s an experience. It’s a cultural movement.
“We form our own audience for ourselves,” says SK James. “It manages to be a form of entertainment for us because we enjoy it.”
Photographer Dean Burton won’t be participating in the event this year. “I’m on vacation,” he says. “I’m retooling. I’m setting up shop again. Someone new needs to do it. There are whole cliques of people who haven’t gotten involved.” He says he sees NadaDada as a great opportunity for artists to show everyone what the Reno art scene is all about.
But Sorg says, “NadaDada represents artists from five states and two countries.” So is it about Reno artists or an international scene? That’s just one of the many questions in flux.
SK James calls NadaDada the most important art movement in Nevada.
According to the NadaDada Facebook page, there are “no curators, no rules, no juries, no bullshit.”