Catherine Bouwer Gallery
Consuelo Bouwer’s house is going through a transformation. The garage is getting the most drastic makeover—creamy carpets will be laid over cool concrete. The big, automatic doors will be removed and replaced with glass French doors, opening up the mountainous city view from her home in the hills north of the UNR campus. Lights have been installed. A partition is on its way. Where once there was a garage will soon hold an art gallery—the Catherine Bouwer Gallery.
Anyone familiar with the artwork hanging at Dreamer’s Coffee House or Silver Peak Grill & Taproom will feel at home in this new gallery. Bouwer, a 44-year-old with hair out of a volumizing shampoo commercial, has long been an independent curator for the walls of those businesses. But that’s just it, those are businesses, and their focus on art comes secondary to their focus on food and drink. While she’ll continue to curate for those spaces, the Catherine Bouwer Gallery will be strictly art-focused—and more specifically, local art-focused.
The works are all original, and they’re largely landscape paintings with some abstract art. She says she doesn’t select art for her own tastes but for the viewer’s. It’s something she learned while curating for local businesses: “To listen to people and hear what they want and feel comfortable with. For some reason, people find art really intimidating, so I want to make it as accessible as possible.”
Included among her artist lineup are metal sculptor Greg Adams, ceramicist Joe Winter, neon artist Jeff Johnson, and painters Mike Callahan, Mike Hess, Naomi Nickerson, Erik Holland, Rick Metzler and Yari Ostovany.
“It’s become clear to me that local artists strictly need something for local artists—and a place that’s not going to charge an exorbitant commission,” she says.
Bouwer charges a 45-percent commission, and selected artists will have a consistent space on her walls, where they can rotate their art.
An outdoor sculpture garden is also in the works adjacent to the garage on what is now an empty lot blanketed with gray rocks and bits of straw. A promising canvas.
Although only two miles from downtown, Bouwer’s gallery seems out-of-the way. This is due mostly to its placement at the end of a cul-de-sac within a suburban neighborhood.
“I’m taking a risk by doing it out of town,” she admits. “But there’re also benefits.”
Bouwer originally had designs on a space off Center Street, but the rent would’ve run her $3-$4 per square foot. Local art galleries notoriously open with idealistic, bright-eyed curators who are discouraged to find that charging high commissions and finding “sell-able” art often becomes a do-or-die situation. It’s a trap Bouwer hopes to avoid by doing it out of her house, for which she has a home office license.
“I don’t want the gallery to be about making money every month,” she says. “I really want to promote Reno artists. I think it’d be hard to do it downtown, and I want to be in it for the long haul.”