Holland Project and Nevada Museum of art host the 11th annual Teen Art Night Start ’em young
The Holland Project, an all ages art and music venue in midtown, has provided a safe, all inclusive space for the city’s young artists at various locations over the past decade. That space, however, on 140 Vesta St., can get a little cramped when it comes to bigger summer events, so for the past 11 years, the Holland Project has partnered with the Nevada Museum of Art for one of its biggest events, Teen Art Night.
“So, Teen Art Night is us taking over the museum,” said Alana Berglund, managing director the Holland Project. “They’re going to open the galleries late, and then we’re going to kind of create hands-on art activities. We’re going to add music. We’re going to have, like, character people walking around, and we build a whole night around what’s already in the museum.”
According to Berglund, every Teen Art Night has a theme, and this year’s will be “Pantone,” in relation to the color scale. Attendees are encouraged to wear monochromatic or color-block clothing and to expect a figurative (yet, visually literal) rainbow of activities and entertainment.
“The photo booths will be themed color,” Berglund said. “The video series will be themed color. We’ll have hands-on art activities including button making, screen printing, fiber dying, live drawing, fashion stuff; we always have fashion. We have, like, makeup, you know, you can make accessories for your hair or, you know, we always have stuff like that so you can dress up while you’re there. And then we insert DJs into the galleries. If you go in the museum site for the exhibitions, there’s one where there’s all these poles, these painted poles sticking up, kind of like trees. So, we’re going to add DJ Octo Phonics in there, so he can kind of like play within these polls.”
Berglund said the Holland Project staff will use a publicly available Pantone app at this year’s event, which identifies individual colors in a photograph to make a “color story” of the night. And if anyone needs inspiration for their outfits, they can find it online.
“There’s some Instagram influencers that dress that way that we really love—monochrome,” said Berglund. “One is Donté Colley … he’ll wear, like, a yellow top with pink pants and green shoes.”
The staff of the Holland Project and the NMA begin planning Teen Art night at least six months before the actual night, which is managed by both HP volunteers and NMA staff. The event began as a way introduce young people who may be familiar with the Holland Project’s comparatively small space to the larger and more formal setting of the museum in a relaxed, informal way.
“I think it’s important for the museum because they want to reach our demographic and speak to them,” Berglund said. “And everything that the Holland does is based on the interests and needs of teens and young adults. [Young people] are on our committees. They help us program, and the museum benefits from having a direct connection to that demographic. And we also benefit because we get access to such a high-quality space.”
Claire Muñoz, director of public programs and community engagement for the NMA, has worked at the museum since 2009 and has collaborated with the Holland Project on dozens of different events aimed at including young people in the Museum’s programming. The first event, A Valentine’s Day bash called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was held in 2008—one year after the Holland Project’s official founding.
“From that point, we started working together on Teen Art Night, and then that just led to a series of collaborations, and they have such a good kind of pulse on teens and young adults,” Muñoz said. “So, for the museum, it’s a really important partnership so that we continue to cultivate the audience here at the museum as well.”
Muñoz said that part of the NMA’s stated mission is to engage fans of art at every stage of their lives. The museum tailors programming for toddlers and senior citizens alike. The partnership between the NMA and Holland Project has led to other popular events aimed at young adults—like the yearly Scholastic Art Awards and the recently-launched Teen Open Studio, a five-month program that brings arts teachers to over 20 local high schools with the goal of helping students create original pieces to be shown at the NMA at end of the program.
“The two organizations are stronger when we work together,” Muñoz said. “We can produce bigger events here in our facility than they can do at Holland Project. It also helps the two organizations to reach different audiences.”
Watching young artists grow in the museum setting, Muñoz said, is both personally rewarding and important to the NMA’s long-term investment in the local arts community. The growth in popularity of Teen Art Night specifically, she said, is proof of the concept.
“When we first launched the program back in 2008 or 2009, we had about 200 participants,” Muñoz said. “In recent years, we’ve had about 700 … so, it’s just this really exciting energetic night and now we’re seeing these kids kind of grow up through the museum and … hopefully that’s part of their life-long engagement with the museum. You know, they have these really important anchored memories here that will last them as they age through the different programs that we offer.”
One of those young people is Alberto Garcia, a longtime Holland Project member and volunteer who currently works as a freelance art curator and researcher for the NMA. Now 23, Garcia was introduced to the Holland Project through an event called Stranger Show at the NMA when he was a sophomore in high school.
As both an attendee and an organizer of Teen Art Night in years past, he said the event played an important role in introducing him to the building and profession in which he now works, and changing his perception about enjoying art in a classical setting.
"[Teen Art Night] is just a space where you’re allowed to be pretty much anything,” Garcia said. “I know that sounds very broad, but it’s a space where you don’t feel intimidated by such a, like, ivory tower institution, which cultural spaces can be.”
While no longer a teen himself, Garcia is volunteering as staff at this year’s event and is happy to contribute to what he feels is an important event. While the aim of the night is to have fun, Garcia also said events like this get young people thinking about the culture they exist in, and the reciprocal nature of society—higher concepts, he believes, that are best explored through the arts.
“Ultimately I think what we’re doing is just fostering a relationship and introduction to culture,” Garcia said. “They contribute so much to it and they don’t even think about it sometimes. They’re consuming so much through online platforms and social media. These are things that are being fed to them, but they contribute to also. And a museum is also a place of culture, a place that holds ideas, theories and concepts that they’re very much part of.”
Zoe Mansfield is a junior at Hug High School who identifies with the nongendered pronoun “they” and was recently hired as part of the Visitors Services staff at the NMA. To Mansfield, Teen Art Night, like many of the Holland Project events they have attended over the past three years, is ultimately a way to engage in one of their passions with likeminded friends.
“I think that for the most part, at least for me, because it’s something that I enjoy so much, like having other people to talk to about art, and to discuss what we think it means and why we enjoy it, instead of just kind of sitting there alone without really any context—it feels out of place when your just alone without anybody that you can discuss art with,” Mansfield said.
Mansfield said the crafts aspect of Teen Art Night, which in years past has included staples like wood burning and leather working among others, makes the galleries more appealing than the usual purely visual experience. The unifying theme also brings the Holland Project’s sense of community into the museum space, which they said is important for young artists and not always easy to find.
Connections between young artists and formal employment opportunities offered by the museum are also invaluable to people like Mansfield, who considers their involvement with the Holland Project and recent hiring at the NMA the building blocks to a future in the world of art.
“In the future, I hope to go to school to learn about art and art history specifically,” Mansfield said. “Part of the reason that I chose the job at the museum is because I think that it’s a good space to, kind of, exist in if I want to become an artist or art historian. Being around art all day was a really big pull for me, because it’s one of the places in Reno that I love.”