Pick up the pieces
Not every piece of art has perfect symmetry, placement or even pristine materials. Holly Spahr explores the idea of decay in her latest exhibition, at least in the chunk of it that’s made out of glass.
Here's the scenario: there are glass lamps in Spahr's show that stem from a recent glass blowing internship with Robb Dunmore, a local artist who teaches that technique. Not every glass lamp that Spahr created turned out exactly as she intended, though.
“With glass blowing, you have to start at a very humble place and work on the core elements before you start doing all these things that people see as glass art,” Spahr said. “You make a lot of mistakes.”
Some of those mistakes will be front and center in Spahr's art exhibit at Junkee Clothing Exchange and Antiques, which begins on Jan. 26. “There will be a collection of glass works that are essentially broken, and to a glass blower's eyes would be garbage,” she said. “But I still feel a connection with them. There's beauty in broken things.”
Spahr took it one step further and embellished the cracks and imperfections of these glass pieces with ornate floral elements or vines. It fits in well with other pieces that conjure up a distinctive place in Spahr's imagination.
“Some of these are hanging pendant lamps, but I've covered them in moss and vines to make them into something that might fit into a fantasy world, almost like floating islands,” she said. “It's interesting to me to use material that I have on hand to appreciate the flaws and work with the failures and irregularities, and to give life back to something that's broken.”
Spahr's day job is also all about repurposing. She works as a costumer at Junkee, where she gets to create displays and stretch that aspect of her creativity.
“I've been super-lucky recently because Jessica [Schneider, Junkee owner] supports the arts and my own artistic talent,” Spahr said. “I've lived in Reno for two years now, so I still feel like I'm new to the art scene. Sometimes, I'm a loner artist type, but I'm getting more involved now.”
Spahr grew up in Atlanta, and she has a degree in fine art and sculpture from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has experience as a scenic fabricator and designer of artistic displays for museums, and she also worked in California as a prosthetic technician to help amputees.
Her motivation to move from California for a lifestyle where she could focus more on her personal artwork has worked out well so far. Spahr's show is part of a re-opening for Junkee Gold, a section of the store that Spahr said was known by shoppers as “the secret room” and features the more elaborate costumes and items from the store.
It's the second show that Spahr has staged at Junkee, and this show features more art than her April 2018 display, she said. Along with the glass sculptures, she will feature about 30 paintings.
“About half of those are portraits that people will recognize from the style of the last show I did,” she said. “But now I've added a lot of . . . let's call them landscapes. They're abstract, celestial maybe. I think they pair well with the glass pieces. It's almost like a fantasy island, very lush. It's the type of thing that I like to dream about and then put into the artwork.”