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Longtime local Jim McCormick is a first-time featured artist of Artown

Jim McCormick, who has been active in the Reno visual arts community since 1960, says he enjoys the performance art that Artown has to offer.

Jim McCormick, who has been active in the Reno visual arts community since 1960, says he enjoys the performance art that Artown has to offer.

Photo By David Robert

Light spilling through ceiling windows and a sliding-glass door fill Jim McCormick’s work studio with luminescence. The small TV playing an old black-and-white movie emits its own flickering light, too, but that’s hardly noticeable in the daytime.

Anybody who’s been in Reno for any length of time should recognize McCormick’s name. He’s been here since 1960, he taught in the UNR Art Department from ‘60 to ‘92, and he served on the Nevada State Council for the Arts for a total of 16 years.

In 1998, McCormick had an onset of peripheral neuropathy, a numbness in his hands and feet. The loss of manual feeling and agility was enough to cause McCormick to stop creating his topographically influenced works, which typically required hours of cutting matte board with an X-acto knife.

So he stopped creating art altogether.

“Then two people, late last year, said, ‘Why don’t you get off your duff and try?'” says the brawny, white-haired McCormick. “Turkey Stremmel was terribly supportive, and the other was my doctor.”

The unifying factor for McCormick’s new series of works (and he will have about 70 on display for Artown) is mirrors and the extent to which they convey the idea of “You Are Here.” The show is titled You Are Here: Reflections of the Viewer.

“You walk into someplace, say a mall, and you see a sign,” McCormick says. “It tells you where you are. I was intrigued by that notion.”

The salient similarity between McCormick’s previous works and his new ones lies in the concept of landscape. If audiences liked McCormick’s previous works because of the sense of Nevada place, they will find familiarity in the desert and Sierra colors of the 12-by-12-inch beige marbled tiles and the rusted metal cans he uses as staple elements. The tiny mirrors, depending on where a viewer stands will reflect what is outside their window, be it Nevada sagebrush or piñon pines. Of course, if a stranger from Monterey, Calif., buys a McCormick piece and takes it home, it will become a piece that reflects a seascape topography.

“I can work for two hours and not realize I have no feeling in my hands,” McCormick says of his new works. “You block it when that creative energy is flowing.”

Such a mainstay in Reno’s artistic community as McCormick is due for an Artown feature. The time seemed right to everybody, and McCormick’s excited about it.

McCormick’s artist’s reception is 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 8 at Stremmel Gallery; there will be a conversation before the reception at 4:45 p.m.

"[Jim] is a pillar in the community, and he has seen Artown from the beginning," says Stremmel. "When I thought about doing him in July, he looked at me and said, ‘Are you sure?' and I said, ‘Absolutely. This belongs to you. This will be your month. This will be great.'"