Ride here, ride now
Bootleg Courier Co. and Holland Project present a roving, bike-powered art exhibition for Artown
“Imagine the Industrial Revolution in America,” begins the email titled “Inspiration.” “Men and women were creative do-it-yourselfers whose craftsmanship and drive to create a better life for their families made America great. Without them we wouldn’t be in Nevada now.”
These provoking words are followed by pictures of countryside barns—painted in colorful, graffiti-style art which mimics sprawling city buildings and maze-like, entangled pipelines. Images of creatively assembled houseboats follow—which bring to mind mini pirate ships overtaken by Gogol Bordello.
The last shot at the bottom of the email is of a man with his son sitting in a tiny, one-room cabin comprised of only three walls, inviting the world to peek in at his modest surroundings. The shot is simply labeled “workplace.”
These are the words and images Tim Conder, of Bootleg Courier Co. and Holland Project, sent out to his fellow contributors of the Artown installation, Forage: A Roaming Gallery. The email was meant to relay the theme of the bike-guided, citywide tour event—that being the Industrial Revolution and its impact on rural Nevada and its early inhabitants.
“I feel like Reno has an opportunity to re-create itself much in the same way settlements did during the Industrial Revolution,” says Conder. “And this is where all three facets of Holland Project programming come into play for this event—art, music, activism.”
All three aspects will be equally represented at each of the special event’s six stops. The five-mile tour held Saturday, July 23, will begin at 3 p.m. at Holland Project Headquarters, 30 Cheney St., and continue through mid- and downtown, ending at approximately 8 p.m. at the Nevada Museum of Art, 160 West Liberty St. The free event is an upgraded version of last year’s tour titled Locomotive, which drew about 120 art-loving bikers.
This year, the beefed-up version not only has more thorough planning —Conder and friends have been brainstorming ideas since November—but solid backing. Forage won the first place grant award for visual element for Artown.
“We suggested the [bike tour] idea last year and did a scaled-down version that was put together quickly,” Conder says. “It ended up being a big success, so this year we were able to put together a grant to really secure it as a Holland Project contribution to Artown.”
The selection of the second installment’s name, Forage, also had some brain juice behind it. “We talked names around for a long time,” Conder says. “The [final] idea is sort of like the definition of forage—
There will be plenty to discover at the event’s stops—picked based on which businesses wanted to participate, and also on location, keeping with Artown’s desire to remain based in the mid-to-downtown area.
Once the tour is launched, participants will ride between locales and be greeted by a lead, whose job is to keep the group on track in regards to both presenting the art and on keeping the appropriate time schedule.
“Each spot has a person set up as a lead to manage the stop for the whole event, directing people, explaining what the event is, that sort of thing,” says Holland Project art director Sarah Lillegard. “And some of the Forage artists will either be on the bike tour themselves, or hosting at the stops.”
The kick-off at Holland Project will get the tour started—using all three aspects Forage aims to highlight: art, music and interaction. Local artist and musician Austin Pratt will exhibit his installation put together with the help of both local and regional artists. Pratt’s piece will explore “the traditions of old-world mysticism and Americana,” using the entire gallery space in the process. There will also be the sounds of DJ Noel Freeman, owner of Freeman’s Natural Hotdogs, to get down to, as well as a fortuneteller on hand to, well, read hands.
After biking over to the second stop, Virginia Lake, bikers will get a look at the visual art piece constructed by Conder: a trebuchet. The 12-foot catapult will be up for visual admiration, and may also feature a performance.
“It’ll be really fun,” says Conder, who also acts as the stop’s lead. “But that’s all I can say. It’s top secret.”
The tour’s third stop will be at Craft, 22 Martin St., where Forage participants will get another dose of multiple stimulations—starting with the 40-foot mural covering the entire backside wall of the beer and wine shop, painted by local artist Ashley Westwood. The mural’s theme keeps with the general inspiration of the event and reflects Nevada’s natural wildlife via an animal pelt diagram.
“Very Nevada but not in a blatant way” is how Westwood describes her segmented animal painting. In addition to the mural, there will also be a novelty dunk tank—after all, riders may wish to cool down mid-bike ride—in which participants can choose to either be dunked or take their shot at a dunkee. To further the cool down, homemade root beer floats will be handed out, made from root beer concocted at an earlier Artown workshop. The Craft stop tops everything off with a Chautauqua performance by 9-year-old Cody LaPlante as American poet Shel Silverstein.
In between stops is a ride-by installation at 720 Tahoe St. Local artists Kaitlin Bryson and Kelly Peyton—Artown’s poster designer—will paint a large mural across the brick building’s wall. Nevada landscape will be the theme, and the mural, described as “surreal” by Peyton, will include mountain desertscapes with human silhouettes painted among them.
Continuing on to Lear Theater, 501 Riverside Drive, bikers will bear witness to the largest mural yet. Nationally recognized New York-based artists Erik Burke and Catherine Karnoff will work with local youths to construct a 100-feet-by-30-feet painting.
“It’s an opportunity for young artists to gain experience by participating,” says Conder. “[Karnoff and Burke] will do the layout and designs, and the kids can watch and partake.” Along with the extensive mural, Forage participants will be able to tour and interact with handmade forts sprawled out in the theater’s grass while listening to local folk punk band Last to Leave.
The final stop will be the Nevada Museum of Art yarn-bombing installation. Local artist Ashley Jennings will coordinate a “team of knitters” to decorate the outdoor sculptures (all except the horse, whose artist apparently didn’t approve of the idea of a horse in a sweater). Food trucks, including Calvin’s Sausage and Gourmelt will be on hand. And Reno Bike Project will provide a free bike valet while participants go inside to watch the feature-length 1920s silent film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed—one of the oldest surviving animated movies—which will play to a live score composed by local musicians Scaught Bates and Justin Craperi.
The roaming gallery has everything from catapults to knitting—just remember to bring your bike, and perhaps an appetite for the food trucks. What better way to end a mobile art show than with a mobile dinner?