One of a Kind
One thing that is clear from artists in Reno—there is a feeling that our city is a distinctive one, not only in Nevada but in the country. Now, a new book that features photography and stories about the Biggest Little City celebrates those characteristics from many angles.
One of a Kind is a new coffee-table book self-published by Mark Curtis a longtime Reno resident and marketing executive. His many connections in the community have helped the book feature a whopping 83 photos and stories about the city from the ’40s through today, all with a personal perspective that goes beyond a straightforward historical tome.
“There are so many wonderful stories that I wouldn't have thought about,” Curtis said. “I just wanted to include people from a lot of different ages, men and women, different ethnicities, and lots of people who are still in town or now out of town. I didn't want to dwell on one era of Reno.”
The release of One of a Kind is being celebrated with an event this Sunday at the Joe Crowley Student Union at the University of Nevada, Reno. It will be on sale there before it hits local bookstores next week. The celebration also features several of the authors reading their stories, including former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval; photographer Diane McAllister; businessman and former UNR athlete Chris Vargas; and Joy Crowley, wife to the late Joe Crowley, longtime UNR president.
One of a Kind is a kind of companion book to Curtis' 2015 offering,
Reno: A Fabled City Finds its Soul. That book captured the city's transformation from a gambling and divorce mecca to more cultural and business diversity over the past few decades. While Fabled City did feature many voices from the community, Curtis said this new book features a more personal slant on this idea.
“Joy [Crowley] shares a story that happened before Joe passed away about a man who visited him while he was walking around the Quad,” Curtis said. “Chris Vargas and Chris Ault [former UNR football coach] teamed up for a story about their big game against Weber State in '91. They talk about what it was like at halftime, being behind, and then coming back from that. So, none of it is just typical text that you would find with a photo. They are all very personal stories about the images.”
One of the surprising stories to Curtis was from the early days of the former KRZQ radio station, where an announcer placed an on-air bet that if UNR beat Stanford in a baseball game, he would go to the pitcher's mound and eat it. “And, he did go out to the mound with a plate and a bottle of Ranch dressing, and we found a photo of him up there,” Curtis said.
The entire project took two years to complete, and Curtis had help from Greg Ferraro, a longtime friend and public relations business colleague. “He helped get the word out and was just wonderfully supportive of the idea, and he brought lots of great stuff to the table,” Curtis said.
There were so many Biggest Little stories that Curtis had to expand his original idea of 70 photos. “We didn't leave any on the table, but since we started I've had people come up to me and talk about what we don't have in there,” he said. “Of course, there are a lot of people and places and events that we couldn't get to, so I could probably do a second one.”