Taken To The Streets: Reno’s Thoughts on Reno Art

Last week I went to Food Truck Friday, which is an awesome place in Reno to get really good food, as well as be around a lot of local people. I took advantage of both of these things (I had a spicy tofu dish from the Kanji truck that was bomb), and I asked some of the people around me what they though of the Reno Art Scene. What I think is that it’s growing, and changing, and finally deciding which direction to take. Art has always been important in Reno, but now there is a community that is coming together and defining itself,  finally offering resources for striving artists. I think the scene offers hope, here’s what some Reno-ites think.

Due to some technical difficulties with my camera, I was only able to compile a few of the interviews from Food Truck Friday, so if you have a differing opinion, tell me about it!

The Art of Art: Revealing Behind the Art Scenes

Everyone loves art; we all marvel over pretty paintings, and admire the beauty of a well-conducted photograph. But what’s behind all of that art? What happens when you peel back the paint, peek behind the ink, and paper, and look at the art as a process.  When you think about all of the dynamics that make art, it makes you start to question: What is art?

Lucky for me, I happen to find myself a part of this process quite often (in fact, I’m writing this in the car as a photo is being done right now). My significant other is local photographer Russell Eck, who specializes in long exposure night photography, and almost all the time I tag along with him as he’s creating his art. I know the ins-and-outs of what makes a nice photo, but I got to wondering; do you? It’s an interesting process that takes a lot more time and effort than people think, and I think it is an important part of art appreciation to understand just exactly what it takes.

Saturday night in Reno consisted of cabin fever-meets-warm weather spontaneity that had Russell grabbing for his camera and his trusty assistant: me. He thought up some ideas, called up a friend, and the three of us made a night of it. As I said earlier, Russell does long exposure night photography, so we ended up fending for ourselves down by the Truckee River in the dead of twilight—well, not actually, but we did come across some unruly teenagers in the process, and I did have to confront another photographer about snapping unannounced photos of us doing our work (and flashing a few statement fingers, since the woman never stopped).

The process goes something like this:

  1. Stakeout: it begins. This is one of the major places the artist comes in—they have a certain eye (generally a photographer’s eye, but I think this applies to all artists in a different sense), which is able to pick out interesting things that the rest of the world doesn’t see.
  2. Spot picked: set up. Lugging the equipment (i.e., camera bag, tripod, flash, flashlights, and knives because let’s face it, this is downtown Reno) to various places, which range from off the roadside in the city, to miles up a hiking trail in places most people never see. Then, after the hike, comes the actual setting up—the moving, adjusting, testing, snapping, adjusting again moments until the artist is happy—time taken for this step generally ranges.

russ3. The wait: exposure time. This is where the breadth of the process truly lies. Since it is night photography, the camera itself requires longer exposure for enough amounts of light to reach the sensors and make a nice photo. Also—as Russell has often done—there are photo processes such as startrails and long exposure water shots that require a lot of time, sometimes hours. This is when we wind up goofing off and having tons of fun though—an unusual luxury of an unfaltering assistant 😉

russ34. The follow-up: on a technicality. This is the stuff that people really don’t think about when looking at a photograph. This is the double exposure times, the editing in computers, and finally the uploading, printing and matting. This part isn’t as glorious as the others, but is equally as necessary and still takes a certain skill and practice.

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I tag along for the first few parts, but generally I don’t see the finished product until we’re at home and Russell is pretty much done. I’ve learned about the different types of photography, the different works that go into it, and ultimately have a heightened appreciation for much of the work that I come across. Does it help knowing what goes into art? I’m not sure, but for me knowing the effort an artist puts into their reveals a sense of passion, and ignites in me ideas and motivation for my next creative project. The finished picture for the night turned out like this:

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Find Russell here:

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Brain picker: a few ART favorites

In light of my recent post on the definition of art, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites from around the web. Much like the art I make, the art I enjoy varies, and the style depends strongly on my mood; that’s one of my favorite things about art though, it’s such a distinctly human entity, always capable of change. This list has been found and collected over the past few years, and every time I go back through it, I’m reminded of where I was in life, and how art helped me in a time that was truly rough. Therein lies the beauty of the depth and expression that is art. 

These are in no particular order, and are just a few of the many wonderful things I have come across over time.

  1. Minjae Lee is a young South Korean artist who combines illustration with paint to create moody, intense works that evoke wonder and emotion. The depth of color and grey reflects the dichotomies that make up the world. For me, the works are just plain stunning; I’m moved by the blacks, and uplifted by the wondrous colors. A great collaboration of her work can be found here.
  2. I found Brian Viveros longest ago, and even after a few years, the art still moves me. The darkness of the paintings couples with the dark content to form perfect tonality. The women are all mirror images, yet each one has a different history, different emotions and different surroundings, making each very unique and worth looking at. There is a sense of sadness that undertones each work, and I think at times, I am attracted to the pieces because I can so closely relate. His work is collected here.
  3. When it comes to watercolor, Marion Bolognesi is at the forefront in my mind. It’s not the immense detail that is used which stands out, but the haunting lack-thereof–The eery portrayal of only eyes, or eyes and a mouth, create a mystified and moving work, which easily looks into the viewer’s mind and being. Somehow, the lack of completion lends to the power in the pieces, and each time I view them, I am incited to a new depth of emotion and thought. A nice collaboration of work can be found here.
  4. Lastly is a really great collective page of a huge number of artists, each worth adoration in his own way. These works are largely surreal, which tends to be my style all around. It may take a few minutes to scroll through and appreciate them all, but it is absolutely worth every second of time. Some of them are adaptive of nature, some are interpretive of Star Wars and classic literature stories, and some are just plain quirky, fun, and weird (like me!).

These are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my definition of art, but that’s a beautiful thing! The world is massive, and tastes, and inspirations are all different, and all dependent on where we are, who we are, and what we want to convey and become. Art is not only unique in itself, but is unique to each person making it and viewing it as well. We take away what we want, and then give it again in what we pass on to the world next. So I suppose you could say this is my art, and what I’m passing on is the consolation and inspiration I have found here before.

Desk Doodle–or–What is ART?

I sat down in my desk at school last week, fully ready and eager to give input on the discussion the class was about to have, when I was suddenly distracted; there was a doodle on my desk which–despite its lack of complexity and slight smudge from previous seat-occupants–was actually pretty good. I sat and admired, quickly snapping a picture before class began. As I half-listened to my professor talk about Frederick Douglass and the (not so) Civil War, I contemplated this little gem I had stumbled across;

Who had drawn this? How long had it taken? What was their inspiration? Was their class really that bad?

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I spun over it, butterflies flapping away at my stomach as I rehearsed all of the fun things I could write about regarding this simple desk-doodle, when I stopped and pondered; was this really art? I write about art, and though there are a lot of things I myself would consider to be art (have you heard of eye bombing?!), I wondered if others’ opinions might not be so lax? After all, I had read an article a while back that stated that a four-year-old girl’s doodle paintings were art (and selling for $24,000 mind you! It’s okay, all other striving artists can just find the nearest bridge), so I couldn’t decide where the rest of the world stands.

The dictionary says this:

art

/ärt/

Noun
  1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,…: “the art of the Renaissance”
  2. Works produced by such skill and imagination.
Synonyms
craft – skill – artifice – science – workmanship – knack

What do YOU say?

From the heART: getting to know me

Is blogging about yourself anything like laughing at your own jokes?

I’m one of those people who, when I come to a stop sign at the same time as another person, always waves the other person through and waits stubbornly until they obey. You could say this makes me a giver, or you could say this makes me a pushover–either way the point is that I tend to bend for others.

This morning though, when I came to a stop sign, something told me to just go. I didn’t wait, didn’t hesitate, think and second-guess–just went. Now this may not seem like a very big deal, but for me this sense of inner-strength was liberating. It wasn’t an epic realization by any means–no light-bulb epiphany–but it reminded me that sometimes what’s most important is simply doing me. Which is precisely what this is all about right now: me.

I’m not entirely sure what the accepted definition of artist is today (someone who draws? Does photography? Makes less than enough money to eat and survives solely on paint-fumes and dreams?), but regardless of the technicalities, one thing I know for sure is that I love art. I love the inspirational, warm fuzzies I get inside when looking at it; I love the texture of the canvas, the weight of the brush in my hand; I love the rewarding feeling I get when looking at a completed piece. The truth, though, is that other than a few dabbles in self-endeavors and a previous drawing class, the painting class I’m currently in constitutes as my artistic experience. To me none of this matters though, because what I have is a deep respect and appreciation for the idea of starting with nothing but raw materials, manipulating them–experiencing them–trying (making mistakes, destroying, crying), trying again, and finally coming out with a finished product that reflects a thought in your head, or a feeling in your heart–It’s like you are God. 

Truly though, I just really like releasing myself creatively, and benefiting from its cathartic effects. So I’m putting myself out there, and showing you my first finished project of the semester. I leave out finished because–as one very wise artist once told me–a piece is never really ever done.

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Here’s my painting up in the hallway in Church Fine Arts at UNR. Let’s start with the obvious: I love Christopher Walken. Can you say celebrity crush? This was my first attempt at acrylic paint, and the canvas is self-made (that last bit can be read in a tone of slightly smug). The assignment was to practice blocking and layers, rather than blending, but I really liked the abstract effect, so I was glad with that.

bloggThe Walken head on: *swoon* As I said, the piece is almost finished, and after a few adjustments to the eyes, I will be entirely satisfied–that’s hard to say too, because when it comes to my character, self-critical would be one of the first words I used in describing me. My favorite thing about the project was how much of a learning process this was–not only artistically, but internally as well. It challenged me to push outside of my comfort zone, try something new, take risks (cry when those risks turned out totally wrong), practice patience, and accept that at the end of it all, I’m capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for. That’s what this post is about though: to show you that I am credible, and that I too am willing to put myself out there, with the hope that people appreciate what I do as much as I appreciate the work I review as well. 

Why Art Reno Today?

I pose this question to you because, a few years ago when I moved from Virginia City to Reno, I asked myself the same thing. When it came to a town fueled by gambling, alcohol, and people who’s personalities change like the weather, could a thriving art culture exist?

The question stewed at the back of my mind, coming to the surface when I came across one of the Art Town pieces scattered across town, as I wandered into coffee shops and browsed works of local artists, and inevitably as my eyes scanned the sun-soaked installations, resembling my sun-baked skin at the Annual Burning Man Festival. 

I’ve taken art classes, wandered through the museums and galleries, and networked with a few local artists in search of art in Reno. What I’ve found is pleasantly surprising; Reno not only has an art culture, but it has a thriving one–a community that has become one in its own, both taking definition from its surroundings, and influencing them. In fact, before we know it, Reno may reject its identity as a depressed black hole–void of light and color–and adopt a reputation anew, one that more accurately captures the imagination and ambition of the local crowd.

There seems to be a unique sense of creativity that comes from the isolated area; is it the water? The lack of further outlets for energy and idea? Or is it just that people in Reno recognize the need for beauty in expression for their savior, so they are willing to put in the added effort? Whatever the reason, Reno is a hidden gem of art and culture–a diamond in the rough–waiting to be dug up, polished, and put on display in the windows of the minds of the people of the world.

Here at Art Reno Today, I intend to display for everyone just how great Reno is. I want to take the reader behind the scenes and into the minds of local artists, explore the exhibits scattered around town, and dabble myself into the realm of local art. Each week will be a new interview, exhibit review, or DIY project centered on the city of Reno. 

I know how special Reno is, now it’s time for you!