Walk this way
The first Thursday of every month is an occasion to walk through the local art scene
By now, you've probably heard plenty about the plethora of visual and performance art that's freely accessible to Reno area residents during July. Maybe you're exhausted from it.
But what you may often forget is the hundreds of talented local visual artists whose work you probably see every day as you get your hair cut, buy a cup of coffee, or pay your parking ticket.
Getting you to look at it, appreciate it and, hopefully, purchase it is the goal of Art Walk Reno, the first-Thursday-of-the-month event that Art Spot Reno curators Geralda Miller and Eric Brooks launched this year.
Art Spot Reno was the brainchild of Sam Stremmel, co-owner of Wedge Ceramic Studio and Sierra Water Gardens. As Miller explains, it began as a way to identify and celebrate the businesses and organizations in Reno that supported and showcased art. Being a designated “Art Spot” got those businesses mentioned on Artspotreno.com, and demonstrated growing support for the arts.
But with two businesses to run, Stremmel needed to turn over the reins of Art Spot Reno, and local arts journalist Geralda Miller was more than happy to take it on in 2013. She brought on local artist Eric Brooks as her partner, and the two quickly began making Artspotreno.com a more inclusive site. Along with highlighting the area’s Art Spots, the site features regular blogs from Miller, and they maintain a user-updated arts calendar and aim to feature art reviews.
“We want Art Spot Reno to be the portal for all the arts of Reno,” Miller says. “And we want to emphasize the fact that Reno is a year-round arts community, not just in the month of July. … That’s why we have the Art Walk, so people can see there’s art all around the community, and come and interact with it year round.”
The Art Walk evolved organically at the beginning of this year. As a featured artist in a group show at the Never Ender Gallery, Brooks noticed that there was a whole string of visual art leading through downtown, in a multitude of gallery and non-gallery locations. Yet, aside from the annual Midtown Art Walk—and another short-lived walk that faltered several years ago—there was no regularly scheduled event that brought people down to see it.
“We decided to do an art walk, with a ’dry run’ in February, and I contacted a few businesses that were doing shows,” Brooks says. “It was a great night, a bunch of people came out, and even though it was cold, a lot of people were really excited to be there. It grew from there, with a series of dry runs until our official launch in May.”
“The turnouts were tremendous,” adds Miller. “One of the reasons we decided to do this on the first Thursday of the month was because the Nevada Museum of Art has its First Thursdays year round. NMA’s event was from 5 to 7 p.m., and I know that I’ve attended that, and I’m not ready to go home at 7. I’m still ready to go out and do something, so why not do something involving art?”
They scheduled the first event for 6 p.m. at Liberty Fine Arts, across the parking lot from the museum, and they were met with a line out the door. “We quickly decided that 6 was a bad idea,” Brooks says. “The next month we started at 5, the same time the museum did.”
The two emphasize that they in no way wanted to take away from the NMA’s event, and felt that the two events could reinforce each other. “They definitely go hand in hand,” Miller says. “We’ll see people around town wearing the NMA sticker on one side of their shirts and ArtSpot sticker on the other. So they’re going to both events.”Walking the walk
The walk still begins at Liberty Fine Arts each month, and it’s here that participants purchase tickets. A $10 ticket gets you an Art Spot Reno glass and a map of locations, along with suggested routes—although it’s up to patrons where to go and how much time to spend there. For a $15 ticket, you get the map plus a commemorative, limited-edition glass hand-painted by that month’s featured artist, as well as a raffle ticket. August’s featured artist is TMCC art instructor and printmaker Candace Nicol, whose work includes desert imagery and scorched-earth colors that tie in well with the pre-Burner theme of this month’s walk.
“These glasses are limited edition, and they do sell out,” Miller says. “They’ve really become collector’s items.”
She adds that each month’s artist is chosen to fit appropriately for the season; October’s fall colors will be on display with that month’s featured plein-air painter.
Then, from 5 to 9 p.m., walkers are turned loose on the venues—Brooks says 17 venues are set for the August walk—where many of the artists whose works are featured will be present to talk to guests. While the majority of the art is visual, the Art Walk is open to performances of all types.
Work featured in August includes Burning Man photographer William Binzin’s retrospective at Liberty Fine Arts; Berkeley photographer Art Domagala’s large-scale People vs. Structure exhibit at Sierra Arts, large-scale painter Susan Watson at Singer Social Club; abstract nature photography by Lee Musgrave at Metro Gallery at City Hall; a one-night pop-up exhibition at Z-Pie by Hernan Borrero, who assisted in Joe Rock’s third-place finish in the Circus Circus 24-hour Mural Marathon; work by tattoo artist and painter Clifton Carter Jr., at the Neapolitan Gallery inside Ampersand; photography by Drew Forsythe at Outsiders Hair and Salon; and a live performance by drumline/color guard performance troupe eNVision at West Street Market and Liberty Fine Arts. Additional venues include Jungle Java/Jungle Vino, Noble Pie Parlor, Be Abundant and others.
It’s not a crawl, Brooks says. “We didn’t want to have an alcohol theme, but there is food and drink at the bars and restaurants along the way, and there will be specials. But it’s not something you’ll be expecting from every spot.”
At 9, participants convene once again at Liberty for a raffle of prizes worth about $700, including a $40 limited-edition print by the featured artist—approximately 25 other prints will be on sale, and proceeds go to that month’s selected nonprofit, which in August will be eNVision. Also raffled is a $200 voucher toward any piece of art shown in the walk, which is paid directly to the artist, and other prizes donated by local businesses.
Miller and Brooks both feel that, while Reno’s arts scene has been burgeoning for several years, there still is a lack of financial support for visual arts.
“We’d still like more purchasing of art,” Miller says. “That’s where we see the void. And we’re saying, why go to Michael’s or Aaron Brothers and buy a poster, when you can come buy authentic, locally produced art that’s affordable? It doesn’t have to be a big investment. Yes, you can go to a major gallery and spend thousands, but you can also come to the downtown arts district and find something you love for $100 or less, and have beautiful art in your home.”
“And, you can meet the artist, get to know their style, talk to them,” Brooks jumps in. “That’s what builds community.”
With only a few months under their belts, Miller and Brooks both see the Art Walk only getting bigger, adding venues and artists. And the number of participants seems to grow each month—with tourists as well as locals entering the mix.
“To me, that’s a sign that we’re progressing,” Miller says. “When we get visitors, tourists, participating in a local event like this, I know we’re doing something that’s important and meaningful in our community.”