Tender (he)arts

Sheppard Gallery’s Valentine Invitational can inspire even those who have the Valentines Day blues

“Great Basin Cupid on a Red Spot” by Larry Williamson.

“Great Basin Cupid on a Red Spot” by Larry Williamson.

Valentine’s Day is my least favorite holiday. While Christmas reminds you that your family is a long way from perfect, Valentine’s Day reminds you that a) you don’t have someone to get all gooey with, or b) the someone you normally get all gooey with is a long way from perfect, since it’s 4:45 p.m. on Feb. 14 and he hasn’t shown up at your workplace with a bouquet of roses that will make you the envy of all your co-workers. Or even a daisy.

But I try not to be cynical. (I did, after all, hook up with my last boyfriend at a singles-only Anti-Valentine’s Day party.) Any holiday is what we make of it, and if I can make something out of The Day of Love that involves loads of chocolate and red wine, then hey—I can’t sulk.

Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Nevada, Reno, is sweetening the deal for those of us who are in it for the candy and booze. They’re capping their sixth annual Valentine Invitational exhibit with a benefit auction and party, emceed by that UNR art guy everyone always talks about, Howard Rosenberg.

The show functions as a veritable who’s-who in the Reno arts scene. (If even only half of the artists show up to the auction, one can schmooze to one’s heart’s content.) There’s Peter Goin, Walter McNamara, Erik Lauritzen, Dean Burton, Joanna Frueh, Ed Sheppard, Ingrid Evans, Mary Lee Fulkerson and dozens of other artists. Their diverse works provide dozens of treatments of the love/sex motif: Trish Andrew’s “Delores Counts Her Valentines” features a diary in which past love interests have been chronicled and appraised. Other unusual pieces include a glass jar that holds an actual heart of some sort. Sculpted and painted hearts abound, some indicating a happy state of the heart and others, such as a stitched-up heart with a bullet at its center, suggesting an organ in a more troubled condition.

There are also a number of variations on the “merging bodies” theme, most notably a Peter Goin photogram titled “Intimate Figures,” which shows two joyous marionette figures doing something (I’m not sure what), and Franklin Miller’s “Joy and Pain,” which shows two figures doing something else.

One of the best things about the invitational is that, by and large, its works are far from schmaltzy. While there are plenty of lighthearted pieces, much of the art is introspective and even dark. So whether you’ve already bought slinky red undies to don on V-Day or you plan to sneak out of the country on the 14th and fly to some little island where they’ve never heard of St. Valentine, you can probably find art to fit your mood at Sheppard. And who knows—if you go to the auction, you might meet a cute boy or girl.