Show I Must See at Reno Art Works


This show at Reno Art Works looks fascinating! I missed the reception (it was last night and I was almost certain I had been hit by a bus, my sinuses hurt so much), but the display is up through the 30th, so I’ll be checking it out soon! Has anyone gone to see this yet? I would love opinions and feedback.


Van Gogh is at the Nevada Museum of Art, right?

Nevada Museum of Art

I went to the Nevada Museum of Art the other day to see Van Gogh, so naturally I spent two hours wandering everywhere else. If you’ve ever been to the museum (and if you haven’t, you really need to go), you know that there is a huge number of rooms spread out over three floors–four if you count the roof gallery, but that was empty now–with a variety of themes and mediums that range all over the spectrum. I took to the stairs, promising that I would lightly browse elsewhere; I was on a mission to find Van Gogh, but the other rooms beckoned–as they always do–and I immersed myself in the many worlds of art.

The first floor: a Nevada theme. Varied mediums that reflect the beauty of Nevada’s culture and environment, done throughout the time by natives and visitors, too. I’ll admit, I’m not particularly moved by works done about deserts, as it’s something I see quite a lot, but a few pieces were truly great. For instance, there was The Woodpile, by Jacob Getlar Smith, done in 1937. It is soft and fogy, making me feel like I was lounging against a tree in some Southern shade. Had I seen this before? I sat on the bench across the painting, immersed in its mystique writing in my journal (which always seems to make other people nervous)–this is exactly why I love art.

My current journal that goes everywhere with me

My current journal that goes everywhere with me

Down the hall I found myself drawn into what is called the Media Gallery. It is a dark room, which generally has some form of media playing, be it a short film or an animated clip. This exhibit was called Bloom. The room was empty, except for one small couch and a large television on the opposite wall, playing (on mesmerizing repeat) colorful circles; like droplets of water on the surface of an oil spill. I ditched the couch, standing so close to the monitor my mom would cringe. My shadow blocked out a portion of the piece and ruined it; just me in the center of the expanding infinite universe.

Second floor: finally! Van Gogh is here! But not just yet, I wandered down the hallway to the left, compelled to see everything on display. The room wasn’t memorable, but at the end there is a ledge that looks over to the first floor; a sign on the floor that said, “What Would Neil Young Do?” I had missed it the first time around–I knew I came in here for something. I also watched for a while, a young couple who I presumed really got art, because they stayed in each room for quite a while.

I wasn't allowed to take pictures, so this is the brochure

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, so this is the brochure

The moment of truth: The next exhibit was Van Gogh. I prepared myself the the magnanimity of the situation, took a deep breath, and walked into the room. Disappointment; on the very back wall hung one, lonely painting. It was of Van Gogh, but was it even by him? See, the story goes, that William Goetz, director and art collector, purchased a supposed authentic Van Gogh from a reputable dealer for $50,000, but the authenticity was for some reason challenged. The exhibit–rather than being the collection of paintings I had hoped for–turned out to be more of a murder-mystery-style set up, debating whether or not the painting was truly Van Gogh. Really?

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter about the let-down, but I wandered the room hoping to find something worthwhile. Is that samba music I hear? Strange, I thought, to put samba music with Van Gogh, so I followed it, looking for the source. I walked to the door, the sound getting louder, and looked out: there was a snowcone machine! Set up outside the exhibit, as a part of the El Museo del Barrio partner gallery; now that’s my kind of art. There was color, and sound, formal art and simple street style all in one place. I went inside.

I had a few favorites, one of which was a large grouping of flip-flops, arranged in multiple circles inside of themselves. They were all an aqua-blue color, but instead of having plastic straps, they were all constructed with barbed-wire (ouch!). Then, on one entire wall, there was the cardboard signs of a street-side artist, who spends his time outside of Tiffany’s in New York City. Each sign was clever and ironic, making a stab at mass culture, or some political issue, or just being a struggling actor. My favorite sign? Make Tacos Not War.

I love the Nevada Museum of Art, and every time I go there’s something new for me to gush over. I love the mix of traditional and modern art, of locals and artists from all around. It is a rich art environment that always inspires me, and reminds me of the value and perfection of art. I may have been disheartened by the presentation of Van Gogh, but there was so much else to look at, I hardly noticed. A big gallery for a small city; how can we be so lucky?

Indie Reno at the Wildflower Village

I’ve done it; I’ve stumbled across the gem nestled humbly amongst all of the dirt. I’ve discovered what I would consider to be one of Reno’s richest and liveliest art locations and it’s right in my backyard. Yes, just a few blocks down the street from my house is the fresh new gallery called Indie Reno. I understand that it may seem like a bit of an overstatement, but I am wholeheartedly sincere when I gush for this quaint gallery located on W. Fourth St. near McCarren.

New gallery opened in Reno featuring over 50 local artists!

New gallery opened in Reno featuring over 50 local artists!

Okay, so the location is a bit offbeat, and–unless your curiosity drives you to snoop a lot, like my own–the outside may be a bit confusing and off-putting, but what’s inside is pure, unique, gold. It is a locally owned and run, co-operative gallery, but instead of featuring one artist, this gallery has roughly 50. I’m serious when I say you can find just about everything in this place.

The rather interesting, yet rather inviting exterior of Indie Reno.

The rather interesting, yet rather inviting exterior of Indie Reno.

It’s true, a huge collective of local artists got together one day (maybe drank some coffee, smoked a few cigarettes–I’m sure it wasn’t so provocative, I just like to embellish in my mind) and decided that the days of hoofing it to craft fairs–lugging heavy displays and fragile art, living on street food, and the fleeting hope of a successful day–were finally over, and the days of a simple store front were here. They took a previously run gallery, revamped it, and Indie Reno was born.

Hand printed cards, posters, prints, and even furniture

Hand printed cards, posters, prints, and even furniture

Did I mention this place has everything? There are roughly ten rooms (it really depends on how you define room; some are just closets, or small sun-areas), each with different types of art, by different artists, with differing themes that range from local inspiration, to exotic, other-worldly flair. The displays change weekly, simply because it adds to the fluidity and realism that defines the place. Each month, a featured artist graces the front room with the collection of their work (right now it’s paintings by Lilly Reaves), and each month they have a gallery-opening party to celebrate–art, food, and great people, why wouldn’t you want to go? There are even art classes offered in the back room which include every kind of form; there’s more information and a calendar here!

Front room to the back shows the immense range of articles showcased at Indie Reno

Front room to the back shows the immense range of articles showcased at Indie Reno

I mentioned it earlier, but I think it’s important to state again that Indie Reno is a co-op; a collective group of artists who not only supply the work shown, but pitch in when they can to help organize and run the place. This gives it a personable, fun feel that couples well with the flow throughout. The artists are not charged a monthly fee either, but instead are charged a small percentage if–and only when–they are able to make a sale; this place is clearly geared with art at the core of its heart and mind. 

The children's room, offering handcrafted clothes, toys, and a bunch of other goodies, too!

The children’s room, offering handcrafted clothes, toys, and a bunch of other goodies, too!

Just about anyone can include their work in the Indie Reno collection (I didn’t see any rated works, but maybe that’s just because no one has asked?), all they have to do is find Shelly Jackson, who acts as the curator-coordinator-go-to-gal. It isn’t necessarily required that a contributor volunteers their time, which is nice for busy schedules, but it seems like they don’t have to twist any arms anyway–each time I’ve gone in there’s been a different person running it, greeting me with a smile, being enthusiastic and beyond helpful, seeming like they truly love what they do. Ah, now this is where art deserves to live.

I sincerely urge everyone to check out Indie Reno at least once (or once a week, since it changes that often) because this place is a true treasure. Even if you aren’t crazy about art, there’s all kinds of other eye goodies to feed your peepers with, so go in, peruse around a bit, and fall in love–just like I did.

“Welcome To The Jungle”

“College” and “coffee;” I have it on good authority that soon these words will officially be considered one-in-the-same. At least for me, pulling 4 a.m. study nights rushing to class at 9:30 the next day, coffee is sort of a ritual. I am by no means what I would consider a coffee snob, and do not place myself above a watered-down cup from a nameless diner, or a slightly burnt one from the gas station near my house; for the nocturnals, anything with caffeine basically qualifies.

Every once in a while though, when I feel like a real treat, I’ll take myself somewhere nice and indulge. Generally this constitutes something as simple as an Americano from Starbucks, but sometimes I actually venture out and get creative, and find myself somewhere like the heart of the jungle!: the Java Jungle, that is.


Most locals know Java Jungle for its eclectic crowd, Open Mic Night, and gourmet menu of homemade food and drinks, many made with locally bought ingredients. Personally I’ve always though of Java Jungle and its engagement to the arts. It is a place for artists to hangout, yes, and in that sense it encourages creativity, but that seems to be somewhat of a coffeehouse standard. What’s great about Java Jungle to me is the fact that on top of promoting local artists, the building itself is a work of art.

jungle2Just walking up outside you can already see this place is literally covered in art. The mural that blankets the building shows a half-nature, half-industrial scene–likely just a simple inspired idea, but I like to interpret it as a reflection on the marriage between the natural world and that of our own. There’s a fluid structure that challenges the general dichotomy of the two, almost implying a sense of codependency or intense sense of war; either that or someone just thought it looked cool, I tend to be over-fanciful.


Inside looks like a, well, like a jungle, but it’s charming and great. The mosaic floor creates a pseudo-red-carpet path leading to the counter, which is covered in random fliers about local art shows, and bands, and the next Drag-party put on by ladies with names like Ambrosia Salad. 


Trees; fitting in a jungle scene. The walls are covered in art, each piece different, each done by a different unknown artist (although apparently this street-artist is now somewhat big in LA).


There is no distinguished theme, but it makes the place fluid, sort of avant garde; it’s a promotion of the creative, an encouragement of the imagination. Being surrounded by art, listening to and talking with artists, inspires a desire for creative action. After being in the Jungle for five minutes, I was ready to run home, grab my paintbrush and canvas, and slap together some artsy self-portrait or general nude–seriously though, it makes you want to get out and do something. 

There is a small gallery of sorts on the left wall, where small, no-name (not yet, at least) local artists are given a chance to sell and display their works. Each month is a new show, changing every first Thursday, with the artists just coming in a submitting since there’s no formal director. It’s not that simple for an artist though; there are a lot of people looking for the chance–so many in fact that generally they are booked out for a year in advanced. Right now it’s only a few months–(maybe you do have a chance!)

Right now and until April 4, artist Nicole Oshan has a few acrylic paintings up.


 java8             java7


Most of her pieces have sold, which goes to show that Java Jungle is an awesome place for exposure and artistic success.

Matt Buccambuso, who has worked at Java Jungle for roughly two years, talks about what goes into picking work for the wall. “It’s usually amateur, never big name artists, which I think is cool.”

Even during Art Town, which Java Jungle is a part of every year, the idea of local art is the main theme. Last year, every single empty space on the wall was covered by local tattoo artists’ work, and this year, the workers themselves will be contributing, since many of them are artists as well (no big surprise there though).

I like the funky-style, the fun people, and overall creative air that makes up the well-known Jungle place on the river in downtown Reno.


All of the photos in this post are done by Russell Eck of Recked Photography. He can be accessed for sale and inquiry here (support local artists!):