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F is for Free, Eph is for Ephemera

Nick Larsen sitswith some of the small, free artwork for his show, <i>F is for Free, Eph is for Ephemera</i>.

Nick Larsen sitswith some of the small, free artwork for his show, F is for Free, Eph is for Ephemera.

Photo by David Robert

The big, serious stuff for sale on sterile gallery walls is what most people know of an artist’s work. But in their spare time, many of these same artists are fooling around with smaller works—things like personalized stickers, postcards, buttons or CDs. Things more often made for fun and for friends than for sale.

Artist and UNR student Nick Larsen knows this, and he knows quite a few talented artists doing it. He’s putting their smaller works in a gallery now with F is for Free, Eph is for Ephemera. It’s the first show he’s curated; and it’s also the first show for Never Ender Gallery in its new space at 518 W. Second St., recently vacated by Fireplace Gallery.

“It’s not their work with a capital W but the things that artists make when they’re just messin’ around,” says Larsen, 23. “They’re amazing, but they’re not meant to be bowed down to.”

Twenty-three artists contributed 21 pieces of art, which were made into duplicates of at least 100 for dispersal to the public. Bob Lukas and Natalie Rishe collaborated on four bottles of champagne with 100 glasses, so participants can toast their marriage on opening night, while they’re getting hitched in Sacramento that evening. Caedron Murchfield made 100 linoleum block prints of Tupac Shakur in various sizes and images. Anthony Arevedo made screen prints of a portrait of local artist and filmmaker Erik Burke. The subject of Burke’s film Road to Colossus, Buz Blurr, a railroad graffiti artist in Arkansas, contributed postcards and 100 drawings with his Colossus of Roads moniker. Anthony Alston made origami vultures with do-it-yourself instructions on the paper from which they’re made. Tamara Scronce put individual dead bugs over a Bottacelli print. Austin Baker, in the exhibit’s largest piece, made a structural puzzle of cardboard pieces—viewers are invited to take one of the pieces with them. Rob Brown made mixed CDs of field sounds and songs and placed them within an elaborate block-print packaging of his drawings.

Larsen is a printmaker, whose work often involves installations. But as curator, his work won’t be in this show. He has mixed feelings about the curator role. On the one hand, it’s awfully administrative. On the other, “It’s cool to be able to create the show you’ve always fantasized about seeing.”

As the exhibit’s title suggests, the work is free. You can take it home with you—but not on Oct. 7, opening night. The exhibit, says Larsen, needs one night to be displayed in its entirety. The idea that it will slowly dissolve due to this free frenzy, that it’s a fleeting show, is the “ephemera” part.

It’s not that Larsen’s anti-capitalist, and he’s not trying to rev up a revolution for free art. Sure, he’s participated in some of the coolest public (aka free) art projects in recent months—the River Fest art mural, the Peripheral Vision maze at Sheppard Gallery, the (con)Temporary Art Gallery alleyway, for which he mocked up some hilarious prints of Magic Johnson. Sure, for his first role as curator he puts on a show in which people can take away free art. And OK, he even works at a public library—where people can borrow books for free.

“I don’t think at the end of the day that it’s about being free,” says Larsen. “It’s about sharing things, artwork, for the hell of it. It’s not about bucking capitalism. I sell my work, artists in the show sell their work. … Forget the gimmick of, ‘It’s free. There’s 100 of it.’ The work is good and should be seen.”