Annie Hooker & Ron Rash
It’s a great time to be a beer drinker in Northern Nevada. Two local brewpubs, Great Basin Brewing Company and Silver Peak Restaurant and Brewery, opened up new locations this month. (The new Great Basin location is reviewed this week.) The new Silver Peak restaurant, across the street from Aces Stadium, is called Slice of the Peak—“Slice” because the culinary focus is on pizza.
Silver Peak co-owner Trent Schmidt says he focused on hiring local artisans for the design and construction of the new location. Local neon artist Jeff Johnson, for example, made the restaurant’s signs.
“It’s great watching the tradesmen work as artists and the artists work their trade,” says Schmidt.
One eye-catching feature of the restaurant’s interior is the large—approximately 33 feet by 11 feet—mural on the restaurant’s west wall. The mural depicts a river, recognizably the Truckee, and a group of larger-than-life characters: a goofy, seemingly inebriated fisherman, a ferocious bear, a bighorn sheep floating down the river in a tube, and a cowboy riding an angry bull. It has a graphic, illustrative, cartoonish quality that pops right off the wall, and elicits an immediate question: Who painted this?
The answer is prolific local artists Annie Hooker and Ron Rash. The two usually work separately—Rash also currently has work on display at the newly reopened Never Ender gallery—but this is not their first collaboration. They also painted, among other projects, the large, more commercially oriented Blue Moon beer painting that overlooks Lincoln Lounge’s beer garden.
The background of the Slice of the Peak painting has Wild West-like buildings on the old-school Reno arch currently found on Lake Street. It almost looks like the Truckee River is flowing beneath the old-school Reno sign, or Lake Street has suddenly turned to water.
“In downtown, the river is the central thing,” says Rash. “It’s just the greatest people-watching. It’s like the municipal pool of Reno.”
The artists say they were given a lot of artistic freedom with the mural—though the colors had to match the interior design, the mural had to include the restaurant’s logo, and the Silver Peak owners wanted a local theme. They also had to complete the project within a very limited time.
“It’s so rare you get the opportunity to work on this scale with a lot of freedom,” says Hooker.
The end result neatly splits the difference between fine art and commercial art. It’s idiosyncratic and like most good paintings, it keeps the eye moving. (One definition of art is exercise for the eyeballs.) But the mural has mass appeal, and it will be on display for much longer than the average gallery exhibition. Considering the location, it also fulfills a basic function.
“It makes me want to drink,” says Rash.
“I’m sure this is not our last collaboration,” says Hooker.
“We trust each others’ work,” agrees Rash.
So keep an eye out for future work from the artist duo with the memorable name Hooker & Rash.