Nevada Fine Arts Gallery
For the past 50 years, Nevada Fine Arts, 1301 S. Virginia St., has been a one-stop-shop for local artists—supplying tools of the trade, teaching new techniques and offering custom framing for new and heirloom pieces. For the past three years, however, it’s also been a space for those artists to show their work in the small basement gallery in the form of monthly shows. This month’s exhibit comes full circle, as all the featured artists are also NFA employees.
“This is actually the first time in the history of the last few years, of the 50 years, where we’ve had all artists that work here,” said Mark Hammon, who co-owns NFA with his partner, Debbie Wolff. “So, everybody who is working for us has some level of passion for art, and that’s kind of transformed the store.”
The show is aptly titled Behind the Counter, and features work from every employee at the store—of which there are over a dozen, including the owners—in a variety of mediums. Among them are familiar techniques like photography, acrylic paints and charcoals, as well as screen printing, woodblocks, ceramics and mixed media—like “Murder Cube,” a small plexiglass box full of used razor blades.
Hammon and Wolff decided to put the show together six months ago when a gap in their calendar offered the opportunity. At a staff meeting, the employees all agreed and were enthusiastic to create new pieces and show some older ones. The result is an eclectic distillation of what all the materials sold upstairs aspire to be, and each piece has a story.
“I actually have a heart condition, so a lot of my stuff deals with things related to the heart,” said Tyler Flores, one of the shop managers. “I have this piece right here, and basically it’s a printmaking piece using ’invisible ink,’ some people call it, where you’re just leaving the impression on the paper. It’s dealing with different—I want to say more than ’birth defects,’ where people don’t really notice them. … I also have this book called ’50 Shades of Bae.’ It’s 50 different versions of how to create a heart.”
“Charcoal is, like, my first love, but I actually got a nerve condition and I’ve got so many other things going on that I haven’t really been able to draw in a long time,” said Carolyn Ding, of her piece “View from C Street.” “This is my view from my window. I live in Virginia City on C Street.”
“This was just kind of an experiment when it started, but it’s all just wood glue that we use in the frame shop,” added Loryn Norman, a manager whose piece “Spooky Glue” features Halloween imagery laid over a glass pane. “I want to do more of an intentional piece using it, so playing around with how the glues blend together. And then the color comes from the Tombow [colored pens] that we sell.”
Shows at the NFA Gallery are installed on the first Saturday of every month and usually include a full reception. Several works from Behind the Counter sold during the Sept. 7 reception, prompting the owners to create prints of many pieces, which can be perused in a display near the ceramics in the middle of the L-shaped gallery.
Hiring artists, Hammon said, makes for better customer service and a more curated inventory, and opening the basement to show artwork has created a small, hyper-local gallery. It’s a benefit to both employees, artists and art-lovers—especially when they’re all the same people.