Keeping it simple

The Latimer Art Club’s show and sale features straightforward, beautiful paintings

“The Corner Lot” by Larry Jacox.

“The Corner Lot” by Larry Jacox.

Photo By David Robert

There are certain people out there who simply hate art that is abstract in any way. These people only like paintings that show a scene—a person, a landscape, fruit in a basket.

To these people, I highly recommend the Latimer Art Club’s annual sale and show.

The exhibit, Art Speaks in Color, is being held at the River Gallery through the end of the month. It features dozens of beautiful and straightforward works, all by artists who belong to what is called the oldest art club in Nevada.

The club got its start in 1921, five years after L.P. Latimer moved to Reno from Berkeley, Calif., to teach watercolor painting, says Ruth Wood Cantrell, the Latimer club’s show chairwoman. Latimer’s students formed the club, which is now about 50 painters strong.

Cantrell says the club, which people join by invitation, gives a yearly scholarship to a local high school senior. But the group’s main goal is to further interest in art, which is one of the purposes of the group’s shows. In addition to the annual judged show that is currently at the River Gallery, the Latimer Club also is planning a show in August, in conjunction with a local group of flower arrangers, to be held at Bartley Ranch.

“For the annual show, we want to show the members’ work, of course,” Cantrell says. “We also want to promote sales and the art in general.”

One of the most eye-catching paintings at the show is “The Corner Lot,” by Larry Jacox, which was awarded first place in the show’s watercolor competition. The work depicts a scene that looks like something from the outskirts of modern-day Virginia City during autumn. An old home sits at the base of a barren hill, covered only by yellow brush and a few stubby, green trees. The house is barely visible, hidden by green, yellow and orange trees, as well as clutter—barrels, rickety fences, a fallen tree branch. The vibrant colors make the somewhat dreary, run-down scene look homey and even welcoming.

Another first-place winner, this time in the acrylic category, similarly depicts a Nevada scene of decay and what used to be. “Old Fishing Boat/Walker Lake,” by Pat Gray, shows a wooden boat sitting on a barren, dry landscape, dotted by tufts of yellow grass and yellow-green bushes. The lake is barely visible—only a smidgeon of it can be seen in the background off to the right—and it is clear that this lake is receding. A turbulent sky rises over jagged mountains, indicating a rare storm may be on the way—although it will probably be too little, too late to do this landscape any good.

The center of the painting is the boat, which has clearly been there for some time. Pieces of wood, which look like they would make good kindling, surround the boat, which is tipped to the right and slightly forward. The design of the boat, I must admit, confused me. The inner design seemed uncomfortably angled and geometric; I can’t image a boat ever looking like that, and it would be interesting to compare the painting with the actual scene, assuming the actual scene exists. Despite the pause the boat gave me, the painting is still a beautiful, yet troubling depiction of the water problems that exist in the Silver State.

These are just two of the dozens of watercolors, pastels, oils and small paintings on display, depicting landscapes, flowers, still-lifes and the like. This is simple art, art that does not need to be interpreted to be enjoyed—which is just the way some people like it.