Funny valentine

Love Lost and Found

Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery manager Amy Winberg stands next to “Summer Storm,” her contribution to the auction.

Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery manager Amy Winberg stands next to “Summer Storm,” her contribution to the auction.

Photo By brad bynum

Has anything inspired more art than love? Money, probably. And, historically speaking, religion. But in these here modern times, when art is often personal, there’s a lot of love. Even if love is not a primary inspiration, most artists tackle the subject at least once or twice in their careers.

In order for an invitational exhibition and art auction to unite a diverse group of artists around a theme, one would be hard-pressed to pick a better subject than love. This is part of why the University of Nevada, Reno’s Sheppard Gallery this month hosts its 10th biennial Valentine’s auction, featuring a variety of artists of different ages, media and disciplines.

The title of the exhibition is Love Lost and Found, and the loss mentioned in the title is a not-so-subtle reference to the gallery’s decimated budget, which makes this fundraising event especially important for the gallery’s future events, programming and exhibitions.

Love Lost and Found features many of the area’s best artists, including university faculty, students and alumni, as well as national and regional artists who have previously exhibited in the gallery.

The great thing about an exhibition like this is that it’s an art buffet; there’s something for every taste. The work ranges from straightforward depictions of love—glorified Hallmark cards—to more twisted interpretations, like Sean Russell’s “Open Season,” which depicts a cherub, presumably Cupid, flat on his face with multiple arrows sticking out of his back. Throughout the exhibition, there are lots of pinks and reds and heart shapes, though, because this is Reno, and we pride ourselves on our Western ways, there are also a lot of skulls.

“I really like how you can see the different age groups,” says Amy Winberg, the gallery’s office manager who curated and installed of this exhibition. “We’ve got artists in their 70s and artists in their 20s, and I think you can tell. You can see the different tastes.”

While many of the art works connect to the theme in literal ways, other artists made more subtle connections.

“Some of the artists connected to the theme Love Lost and Found by using found objects,” says Winberg. She cites Anastasia Thompson’s assemblages made using antique jewelry as an example.

Another motif recurring throughout the exhibition is paired couples. Devon Ford’s photography diptych “Anoxics Anonymous” depicts a man and a woman wearing swank cocktail party outfits. She’s holding a martini. He, a cigarette. Seems straightforward enough—except that they’re both wearing gas masks.

Most of the pieces in the exhibition will have a starting bid of $45. Different gallery visitors will gravitate toward different works. The auction takes place on Feb. 12—just in time to pick up a unique Valentine’s Day gift—but with about 90 artists contributing, Winberg anticipates a large crowd and, she hopes, fierce bidding. The exhibition is on display all month through the day of the auction, so it might be wise for prospective art patrons to visit the gallery in advance, scope out the pieces, and plan bidding ahead of time.