Road trip

Dianna Sion Callender

The Dada Motel leapt into Reno’s collective consciousness in the summer of 2007. It was a group of artists who wanted to work next to each other on a show without necessarily working together. Wildly divergent artists—from multimedia to visual to music—came together at the historic El Cortez Hotel, and the public ate it up. Dianna Sion Callender was one of the founders and will participate in the 2009 NadaDada Motel and a NadaDada show coming up in Las Vegas on Jan. 23-April 20. This year, NadaDada Motel in Reno will take place June 18-21. For more information, check out

Let’s talk a little bit about this Dada thing that’s going down in Vegas. How did this come about?

The first year we did the event in Reno, we called it The Dada Motel. That was actually really successful. We hooked up with the El Cortez Hotel, and a lot of artists came in and basically took over the rooms and turned them into their own gallery. Whatever type of art they wanted to do. It was completely up to them. … So we did that, and then Chad Sorg, who works for the Nevada Arts Council and travels around Nevada a lot installing artwork in different office buildings and stuff like that, went into this museum exhibit at the Marjorie Barrick museum at the UNLV campus last year. He called it “Selections from Dada Motel.” … So we did the event again, last summer, 2008. We again had the historic El Cortez Hotel backing us, actually gave us more rooms than the prior year, also the townhouse across the street got involved, so we had artists over there, as well. We had one motel and one hotel. It was pretty cool. We were starting to pack the house; it was maybe three or four times bigger than the year before. A lot of people came out. It was a blast, we had so much fun. Each year we get to rent out the Trocadero nightclub where Frank Sinatra and all the Rat Pack played back there in the good old days. For 2009, we’re calling it NadaDada Motel … and it’s going to stay that.

OK, that’s NadaDada. So you’re taking basically a caravan of artists down to Vegas on the 23rd.

Metaphorically speaking. Chad will be driving a big truck down with all the artwork on the 19th. Elaine Parks and I are driving down on the 20th and helping him install the show. The opening is Friday the 23rd from 5-10. It’s going to be really great; there are so many good artists in the show.

Name some of them.

[From so nobody gets forgotten] Trelaine Lewis, Kai Prescher, Ned Peterson, Dianna Sion Callender, Stephanie Hogen, Dusty Hartman, Dean Burton, Franz Szony, John Molezzo, SK James, Ann Tracy, Dave Cherry, Craig Smyres, Elaine Jason, Elaine Parks, Jeff Johnson, Andy Munz, Jerry Tarner, Patty Atcheson Melton, Adam Robbins, Thomas Willis, Leah Craig and Chad Sorg. Trelaine Lewis will be in the show. That girl … I don’t know if you’re familiar with her work.

It’s freaky.

Absolutely amazing. I love it. She is freaky. She likes to play with meat. In fact, when I did my photo shoot, she and Tova [Ramos] were kind of my inspiration for what I’m doing for the show. I’m doing three 4-by-6-feet tapestries. I’ve been working my butt off for these … They’re kind of surrealistic storybooks. I call it Post-Industrial Renaissance. You have to see this. It’s kind of a story about human sacrifice. I know Trelaine is working on a bunch of really interesting frames. I haven’t seen them, but she’s using different types of meat and stuff to adorn them.

What’s different about this is you’re taking the art down to Vegas that’s going to be in the show in six months; before you had the show and then the art went down.

That’s kind of true. This year, I’m actually making the art special for the museum show. It’s kind of backwards the other way.