X-ray vision

Ray Herschleb

Multimedia artist Ray Herschleb at his studio, My Studio X, in Sparks.

Multimedia artist Ray Herschleb at his studio, My Studio X, in Sparks.

Photo/Brad Bynum

Herschleb and 15 other local artists will display work in the upcoming stARTup Twenty Fifteen exhibit at A an Art Boutique and Gallery, 40 E. Fourth St. in downtown Reno. The show opens with an artist's reception on Feb. 6 at 5 p.m.

“I get bored easily,” says multimedia artist Ray Herschleb.

It explains why his voluminous collection of works ranges so widely from paint to glass to metal work, jewelry and re-purposed furniture. Herschleb was born to a family of artists and grew up in Yosemite Valley, steeped his whole life in his mother’s drawings and paintings and his father’s music. He’s been making art since he was a child, and it never occurred to him to earn formal training in such a thing.

“I think that either you’re a creative person, or you’re not,” he says.

As a young man with an itch to make things, he entered the workplace as a tradesman, receiving on-the-job training through apprenticeships in cabinetry and electrical work. This inspired and enabled him to finally make the things he had imagined.

“I think of art as an exploration—I’m an explorer,” he says. “In my early days, I would do pen and ink, watercolors, acrylics … one-dimensional stuff I could see. But then, after a certain point, I would learn how to do more things, and it would click that I finally knew how to create the stuff I’d been thinking about.”

In recent years, his work has increasingly been three-dimensional, with many pieces incorporating LED backlighting and infinity work—incorporating light and mirrors to create infinite spaces. One such piece, “Infinite X,” was developed for the KTHX-FM broadcasting center. Herschleb has been the station’s Artist of the Month three times. Twisted metal in the shape of an X is framed within a lit, mirrored box that makes the X appear to repeat inward into infinity.

Herschleb’s day job is in home automation and integration, drawing upon his skills in electronics and sound/multimedia. He takes on commission work as well, making such art-for-hire pieces as colored glass door panels, pondscapes and benches.

Skilled trades have always been the backbone of his artistic process, incorporating salvaged items from construction sites and other discarded items: broken safety glass, grout, twisted metal scraps, an old door, copper pieces, lighting tubes, old paint, wires and even a Reno News & Review newspaper rack, “art box.”

But making art doesn’t often fit conveniently into a managed schedule. “Sometimes something pops into my head. I have to bring it to fruition in order to let it go. I just have to get it out of my head. Then I can sleep.”

As with much of his life, Herschleb made his own way when it came to showcasing his work. He took over a space on Freeport Boulevard in Sparks several years ago and called it “My Studio X.” His work is available for viewing by appointment year round or at www.mystudiox.com.

“It never occurred to me to go to galleries and ask them to show my work,” he laughs. “I just figured, ’I want to show my work—I’ll start a gallery!’”

In addition, his work has also been shown at the NadaDada Art Show and the Artist’s Co-op in Reno and San Francisco’s Open Studio, and he was a regular in the Midtown Art Walk last year.

His studio’s name derives from a nickname he earned early in his career as a tradesman.

“We’d have to do drilling, and you have to be really careful about drill spots,” he says. “You have to have a kind of x-ray vision to know what’s beneath the surface. They thought I was good at that, so they called me X-Ray.”