Guerilla gallery

The Dream Factory

Jim Zlokovich stands outside his new arts venue, The Dream Factory, while describing his vision for it.

Jim Zlokovich stands outside his new arts venue, The Dream Factory, while describing his vision for it.

Photo By David Robert

Got some artwork to show the world but no walls? Just wrote a play, but you don’t have access to a stage? Your multi-media cabaret performance is too weird for a theater? There might be a place for you.

Reno artist Jim Zlokovich just opened the Dream Factory, an all-purpose, do-it-yourself venue for artists and performers.

“I’m the person you call when you have an idea, and you don’t know where to put it,” he says.

Zlokovich, whose ethereal, realistic paintings of rust and clouds have appeared at the Nevada Museum of Art and the University of Nevada, Reno’s Sheppard Gallery, has made a name for himself in the mainstream art world. At the same time, he’s been gaining momentum as an artistic force outside the galleries, too. He’s painted a mural on Sierra Street, established the art-exhibit program at Rose’s Deli and taught underprivileged teens how to paint while working with Project Care’s Paint Club program. [Editors note: Writer Kris Vagner was a featured artist in the series at Rose’s Deli.]

“The Dream Factory is for the community,” he says. “I think the arts should serve community.”

Zlokovich has long been a cheerleader for Reno artists and their collaborative efforts. Like many artists, he’s interested in seeing creative people working together. He feels that artists owe it to each other to support each other’s efforts, and as a group, artists have a responsibility to inform and engage the wider community. Having the Dream Factory open is like having a big, new pom-pom and a shiny megaphone in his hand.

He’s not going to use it to shout orders, though. His aspirations are more communal than curatorial. At the Dream Factory, Zlokovich’s directorial approach is almost entirely hands-off. His goal was to find a space and let artists have their way with it. Mike Steedman, a friend and painting contractor, purchased the building, which was formerly Bahia nightclub on East Fourth Street. Then he turned it over to Zlokovich, who is essentially turning it over to artists.

Steedman and Zlokovich don’t jury exhibits. They don’t book talent. They don’t hang art, maintain a mailing list, put up posters to advertise events or do anything else a director of an arts center would normally do. There are no employees, and the facility doesn’t keep regular hours. On the bright side, there is no board of directors to answer to, and there are no taste-making grantors to appease.

Working with no funding and no administrative support isn’t something that works for every artist, but for the free-thinking, the envelope-pushing, the not-yet tried-and-true and—especially—the entrepreneurial, access to free space is the most empowering thing they could ask for. The Dream Factory’s first event, a dinner-theater-cabaret-drag performance organized by UNR dance instructor Jack Failla, was the type of event that would have been prohibitively expensive without a loaned venue. Failla and his collaborators designed their own show, brought their own audience and packed the house.

What’s next? Zlokovich doesn’t know. Anything goes at the Dream Factory, he muses philosophically: “I love the mystery. You don’t know what’s going to happen, just like you don’t know what’s going to happen in life. One door shuts, and the other one opens. I think art does the same thing. I love that part.”