Play with it
Reno News & Review photographer Lauren Randolph documents the Nada of Dada.
We dance, slowly and closely to the New Age-y instrumental music that plays softly. We look deeply into one another’s eyes. Nothing is said, but my moment with artist Andrea Juillerat is one I’ll remember for a very long time.
There were vignettes like this throughout the weekend at the Nada Dada Hotel for the hundred-plus artists and thousands of visitors—3,000, according to the New York Times story, “Get a Room, Make a Show.”
Looking around in the El Cortez and the nearby Town House Motor Lodge, art was happening. Some of it was safe art—nice watercolor portraits and landscapes—that would look at home on any wall. But many of the artists move in darker spaces, and even the shadows were illuminated by a glimmer of humor. For example, in the Room of a Thousand Dildos, the prickly bed became a Magic Fingers vibrator. In Trelaine Lewis’ room on the second floor of the El Cortez, the Carrionnettes were made of animal parts, and a twisted and tethered baby doll made sweet noises in the corner. The frames of some pictures were made of bacon and olive loaf.
Lewis is one of Reno’s lesser- known artists, but this art show was open to everyone. And that’s its strength and its intrigue. As visitors and artists crept through the circuitous hallways, up and down labyrinthine staircases, they became part of the larger theme of participation—a Burning Man vibe without the heat, windstorms or high costs. For many of the artists, Nada Dada Motel was about exposure, talking to the public and other artists about their work.
“Hi, I’m a tiger,” said Lewis to one visitor. “Come to the zoo and look in my cage. Then you can move on to the next cage, but you don’t want to take the tiger home.”
She said her participation is about more than just being passively observed. It’s about being networked and part of something bigger than herself.
“I’m here because I don’t get out much, and I don’t show, but I want people to see my stuff. It’s just a way to connect with people.”
Metal artist Jeff Carver, a perpetually smiling man with wavy salt-and-pepper hair, said the event is about expressing the artists’ individuality.
“It’s fun,” he said. “You can just do whatever it is you want to do. There are no rules. There’s some kind of art in everyone. It’s good to get whatever it is in you out and not worry if it’s like anyone else.”
This was a participatory event, which could be seen in how the crowds interact, eating and drinking with the artists. Behaving badly in some cases, but still part of the show. Some of Reno’s biggest artists, like Joe DeLappe and Jim McCormick, passed through the many installations, participating with their presence. In fact, there were a good many performances to be seen, including an ongoing burlesque show in the Trocadero Room headed up by songstress Jill Marlene.
Marlene, too, took part in a mock wedding with my good friend Dianna Sion. They were the brides, representing the marriage of the performing and visual arts and making a political statement in support of same-sex marriage. Marlene was given away by Reno City Councilman David Aiazzi and his wife, DeLores. I gave away Sion, while wearing a cubed steel head cage and my grandfather’s tuxedo. Another good friend, Reno attorney Carter King, performed the hilarious, bizarre, yet thoughtful nuptials.
“I promise to support you and appreciate what you create,” Marlene vowed to the “Sanguine Homage” artist and a Nada Dada organizer, Sion. “I promise to love your process and seek to grow to a profound understanding of it and its creation through inquiry and mindfulness.”