My he{Art} will go on

We he{Art} Bikes

Sara Gray, owner of Grayspace, holds <i>We he[ART] Bikes</i>, an exhibit/fundraiser for Reno Bike Project.

Sara Gray, owner of Grayspace, holds We he[ART] Bikes, an exhibit/fundraiser for Reno Bike Project.

Photo By Fielding Cathcart

Suddenly, there are hip places for bikes, kids and art. Reno has been given a big injection of youthful energy by three local nonprofits: Reno Bike Project (RBP), Holland Project and Grayspace. All were founded within the last two years by young artists and activists who saw a need and had the desire to expand their impassioned interests into the community. And, in the spirit of communal efforts, they frequently join forces to further strengthen and support each others’ missions.

This Saturday, April 26, at 6 p.m., this trio of nonprofits will unite to put on We he{ART} Bikes, the second annual “bike art” fundraiser to benefit the Reno Bike Project. This year’s event will be hosted at Grayspace, 26 Cheney St., with overflow artwork being shown next door at Holland Project’s new headquarters, 30 Cheney St.

The event will feature original artwork created on the theme of the bike. A number of sought-after local artists are donating work to the event, including: Ahren Hertel, Anthony Alston, Candace Nicol, Chris Carnel, Jonathon Donald and Chase Chivers. Donald, for example, crafts furniture out of used bicycle parts. The artwork will be sold silent-auction style with 100 percent of proceeds going to RBP. In addition, the event will feature live music coordinated by Holland Project, beer donated by New Belgian Brewery, and the creative and festive atmosphere that defines events hosted by these entities. This is a great opportunity to get to know and support some of our youngest and most invigorated local cultural nonprofits.

Reno Bike Project
The RBP found its visible foothold in the community last August with the opening of Papa Wheelies Community Bike Shop, 250 Bell St. The shop has become so popular that plans to expand into an adjoining 550-square-foot space are now in the works.

The shop offers used and refurbished bikes at an affordable price. The high-quality of the bikes, the inexpensive price tag and a desire to find alternative transportation has spurred a flurry of demand for what the shop offers. “One bike costs about as much as three tanks of gas,” clarifies RBP co-founder Noah Silverman. To keep up, RBP recently hired its first employee, mechanic Casey Clark, to tend to the overload of repairs and refurbishings. Clark is aided by a dedicated crew of volunteers who staff the shop, helping out with wrenching as well as answering questions and giving hands-on mechanic advice to anyone who needs it. That advice can be put to use immediately: The shop provides bike stands and tools to the public so anyone can work on his or her bike, for free.

“The public work stands are always in use,” says Silverman.

One of the stands is anchored to a car tire so it can be rolled outdoors for the frequent occasions when the shop gets too crowded inside. In addition to its regular offerings—the free public bike stands and on-site mechanical assistance; refurbished bikes, used bike parts, and new bike essentials such as tubes, tires and lights; and bike repairs—Papa Wheelies hosts ladies’ night on Tuesdays (women can learn bike maintenance from women mechanics), and volunteer night on Thursdays. Come June first, the shop will host a bike building class. And on Bike to Work Day, May 15, if you commute by bike, stop by the shop for free pancakes.

Kyle Kozar, left, and Noah Silverman combine forces with Sara Gray and others for the <i>We he{ART} Bikes</i> show.

Photo By Nicholas Higman

Outside of the shop, RBP does a lot in the community to promote bicycle commuting. Partially financed by a grant from the City of Reno, RBP places bike racks throughout the area. The first rack was recently installed in front of City Hall. Within short order, it had bikes locked to it. The organization will also continue its free valet bike parking services at several upcoming events, including the Rollin’ on the River concert series in Wingfield Park.

Local artists and art patrons often lament that there aren’t enough venues that show contemporary and cutting-edge art. Enter Grayspace. Sara Gray, a UNR graduate who previously worked for the university’s Sheppard Gallery, opened the gallery last summer to critical praise. The space has been open less than a year, but it has already hosted several thought-provoking and beautiful exhibitions by local and regional artists, including Anthony Alston, Bobby Lukas, Natalie Rishe, and Rob Brown.

The art on show pushes the boundaries of much of what is normally seen in the area, with conceptual and abstract work, installations and performance pieces. Eschewing commercialism, the gallery is a nonprofit entity (though work on show is for sale); Gray is aided and supported by a dedicated board. Other funding comes from grants from the Nevada Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, membership, and, of course, fundraising.

Grayspace hosted “For Rent”, a fundraiser party, on April 4. According to Gray, the event was well-attended, and the attendees were very supportive. However, the gallery is still in need of additional support to continue its programming and pay the rent.

Holland Project
In the two years that Holland Project has existed, it’s faced some tough challenges. But the spirit and enthusiasm of those who stand behind it—including a dedicated youth board comprised of local teenagers—has never waned.

Holland Project is, in brief, an organization focused on providing arts, culture and music education and exposure to local young people. The nonprofit follows the model of the Seattle-based Vera Project, where both executive director Britt Curtis and program director Heather Fuss have volunteered.

The organization’s biggest challenge was losing its space on Keystone Avenue because of necessary building upgrades Holland couldn’t afford to make. But the organization persevered, moving to the Cheney Street location in January. Holland uses this space not only for administrative purposes, but also for small, acoustic music events and visual arts events. In addition to this weekend’s We he{ART} Bikes, Holland will host the BFA show of UNR student Omar Pierce in May and, in June, a unique fundraiser called “Indisposable,” which will feature photographs taken with disposable cameras by various musicians and artists in Reno, Sparks, Seattle and San Francisco. All proceeds from the sales of the photographs will benefit Holland Project.

The organization is also hosting monthly 50/50 live music events at Studio on 4th (432 E. Fourth St., Reno). The profit from these events, featuring all local talent, is split half-and-half between Holland and another nonprofit organization of Holland’s choice, like Rainshadow Community Charter High School, Great Basin Food Co-Op or Grayspace.

Holland hosts numerous workshops throughout the Reno area on various topics, including poster design, origami, sound technology and more. An ongoing priority of the organization is to find a permanent venue to host workshops and other events.