Family show

Michelle and Peter Laxalt, Kelly Peyton, and Rachael Scala

From left, artists Michelle and Peter Laxalt, Kelly Peyton and Rachael Scala at the Holland Gallery.

From left, artists Michelle and Peter Laxalt, Kelly Peyton and Rachael Scala at the Holland Gallery.

Photo By amy beck

Holland Project Gallery, 140 Vesta St., hosts three mini-exhibits by young, emerging artists: In the Making; Something Honest, Nothing Profound; and Hither & Thither: A Celebration of the Temporal. The shows run June 18 through July 6, with an artists’ reception Friday, June 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. Gallery hours are Tues.-Fri. from 3 to 6 p.m. or by appointment.

Michelle Laxalt’s sculptural installations have the stark sweetness of an artfully spilled cupcake. Glossy ceramic flowers that almost look like cracked-open hearts hang from ribbons. Cartoon-like flying fish dangle in the air between them. Her work is a little nostalgic, a little realistic and a little fantastical. It would look equally at home in a kid’s room as in a Tim Burton movie.

Her brother Peter’s drawings have a dash of bubbly lightheartedness, too. The attitude of his drawings is quirky macabre. Anthropomorphized black-and-white critters intertwine with household objects that might just be alive, with a wisp of zombie aesthetics and a tattoo artist’s reserved dab of shading.

Michelle is an art student at the University of Nevada, Reno. Peter graduated this year from Reno High School. They’re among the four featured artists in the Holland Project Gallery’s current show, which is actually three mini exhibitions, all shown together.

Since its inception in 2007, Holland Project has been championing, enabling and entertaining younger Reno artists and artgoers with exhibits, filmmaking programs, all-ages dance nights, indie craft fairs and art exhibits. In October 2011, Holland Gallery on Vesta Street became its first dedicated gallery space.

“Our statement is, ‘for young people by young people,’” says Sarah Lillegard, 27, Holland Project’s arts and programming director. From the get-go, the aim of the new gallery has been to provide high-school, college-age, and 20-something artists with as professional an exhibition experience as possible.

“The gallery’s just coming out of its infancy,” says Lillegard. “This is the first time the gallery’s had its own space, and that has propelled us onto another level of curating art.” Since October, she and the nine-member board have worked out a museum-like submission process, whereby they accept proposals, the committee reviews them, and they organize exhibits based on the trends they notice.

Lillegard says there’s been a lot of discussion since the gallery opened about how to offer opportunities to beginning artists while maintaining a high quality standard and keeping older artists in the fold as they pass into the “mid-career” stage.

“We discussed how to balance that, so experienced artists feel it’s worthwhile and younger artists feel its accessible,” she says.

She’s been an advocate for teen artists in particular. “It’s just as relevant to be showcasing high-school artists,” she says.

“We always give professional consideration, no matter what age,” she adds. Like a commercial gallerist, she conducts studio visits to see how her artists’ work is progressing, produces nice-looking labels for exhibits, and sends out articulate press releases.

“Regardless of who the artist is they always get the same finished treatment,” she says. “The walls are always clean. The floors are always mopped and swept. There’s always a reception.”

The Laxalts’ portion of the show is called In the Making. Toward the back of the gallery, which is separated for the event into distinct spaces with modular walls, is an exhibit by recent UNR graduate Kelly Peyton, Something Honest, Nothing Profound. Her pen-and-ink drawings in thrift-store frames take on intentional incongruities—mixing cuteness with entropy, for example—with charm and precision.

Back in the hallway, which serve as a gallery annex, first-time exhibitor Rachael Scala will hang her altar-like assemblages, made of rusty objects found in the desert, natural materials that reference traditional crafts such as basket making, and fresh-looking dabs pf bright-colored paint. Her part of the show is titled Hither & Thither: A Celebration of the Temporal.