On the west side of Reno, along what used to be the Highway 40 approach to Reno, there are several former motels. Pat Campbell bought those motels and eventually turned them into an artists’ colony called Wildflower Village. Artists live there, some of them working for the colony in exchange for part of the rent for their apartments. The place continues renting motel rooms to support the Village’s activities, as well as serving as a Penske truck rental facility. Over the years, the Village has added a coffee bar and art gallery. It holds an art show the next-to-last Saturday of each month and is holding Saturday arts festivals all during Artown.
Why did you start Wildflower Village?
Because I wanted to retire, and I thought I could turn it into an extended stay and retire. I haven’t been able to retire yet. I’m having too much fun.
What all happens at Wildflower Village?
We have apartments, bed and breakfast, artists’ apartments, artists’ studios. We have poetry readings, we have book readings. The Reno Portrait Society meets once a week and does portraits. On the
penultimate Saturday of every month we have an art show of the featured artist for that month, and we have a reception.
You’re doing more during Artown?
Yes, we are. Every Saturday during Artown we have a function which might include music and we invite other artists who don’t necessarily show in our gallery to show their work. We have face painters and drum circles.
What are drum circles?
Drum circles are where people get together in a group, and they bring their own drums, and they create on the drums.
Tell me how large the gallery is.
A little over 4,000 feet and growing.
How many artists are represented?
Seventy-four and growing—75 today. Whoopie—76 today! I just counted the two new ones we added today.
Why does this world need artists’ villages, colonies?
Because it’s unique and because it draws folks from outside of Reno to come here. One thing I think is really important is that we start to advertise Artown and Reno as an artists’ community to bring folks from outside of our area, not just solicit folks who live here.
Artists actually live at the Village. What are the arrangements?
They vary, depending upon the artists’ financial capability. Sometimes I take partial payment in rent in art.
Some of the art was created by people who live there.
Oh, a lot of the art that is here was created by artists who live here, or just have their studios here.
Do you know anything about the history of the motels before you got them?
Yes, the good background was that John Wayne once slept in the Westerner, which is where our coffee shop is. That’s not actually certified, but I’ve been told by numbers of people.
Have people been supportive?
Very supportive. The city’s been very supportive. I can’t say enough good about the city. And we were in the county when we started, and they’ve just been incredibly supportive. … They’ve never been an impediment. They’re just wonderful.