Friday, July 7, 2017

Nesting in Reno's riverwalk sculpture garden

Nesting” sculpture by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton

Metal-gear bird
Nesting” is one of six pieces of the current collection of sculptures displayed in the Bicentennial Park at the Truckee river. “Nesting” was created by Jeff Schomberg and his wife Laura Kimpton. The artist couple is best known for their word sculptures, such as “BELIEVE” at the waterfront of downtown's Art Plaza. While “BELIEVE” comes with a silhouette of cut-out birds, “Nesting” features metal-gear birds on the tip of bending beams supporting a metal nest.

Calling the phone number provided at the sculpture pedestal, 775-334-3330 ext 5, you will learn that the idea behind the sculpture is “to create the experience of life in the world.”

The birds do not fly away. The current exhibit—curated by First Reno Rotary—is rotating and the bird-tree sculpture will make place for the next inspiring design. Therefore, the gear birds are soon going to nest somewhere else.

References and more  to explore

[1]  VIDEO: Bicentennial Sculpture Park Opening and The Playa Art Park Preview [http://thisisreno.com/2016/11/video-bicentennial-sculpture-park-opening-reno-playa-art-park-preview]
[2] Reno Gazette-Journal: Reno welcomes six-piece sculpture garden to riverwalk  [http://www.rgj.com/story/life/arts/2016/10/27/reno-welcomes-six-piece-sculpture-garden-riverwalk/92851804]

Sunday, July 2, 2017

From the Playa to the Plaza: B·E·L·I·E·V·E

Section of  the cut-out bird silhouette of  the “BELIEVE” sculpture

What you see in the top picture is the upper backside of the letter B in the “BELIEVE” sculpture. This popular, seven-letter sculpture by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton [BELIEVE In Reno] has found its permanent place in downtown Reno. The letters, two to three times as tall as an erect human being, are standing on City Plaza, aka Art Plaza—with the historic, recently renovated United States Post Office across the Truckee river in the background.

BELIEVEsculpture during the Sculpture Fest in May 2015 (then a few blocks north from City Plaza)
Jeff Schomberg was present with his Burning Man playa bike during the docent-led “Downtown Mural and Burning Man Art Tour” on the opening day of Artown this year. The walking tour started at the “BELIEVE” sculpture, a contribution to the 2013 Burning Man event. Jeff told us that it takes about three to four weeks to fabricate a single letter. The City of Reno paid $10,000 per letter. A signature of the sculpture is the cut-out bird silhouette, which transforms each letter into an art object of its own. While the sun and clouds are moving over Reno, letters are individually changing in appearance. The artists have played with the sculpture in the past by turning selected letters upside down. Welcome to the convertible perceptions of the word believe. Great to have inspiring letters and artists in town. Kids will get some hands-on experience with a word; maybe even before they know how to read.

Kids love both the letters and the birds
BELIEVE it or not, large-scale outdoor sculptures attract more and more visitors to downtown Reno, turning the city into an urban-art hot spot—and not only during the month of Artown.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Who is dancing between the Nevada Museum of Art and the Sundance Bookstore?

Early to Riseby Erik Burke, Reno, Nevada
It is a father sundancing with his daughter. This mural on the backside of the Nevada Museum of Art is named “Early to Rise,”created by Erik Burke in 2016. Erik Burke lives in Reno, Nevada. He creates urban art in Reno and throughout the world—promoting his view that art should be free. You can find a brief description of this mural at artspotreno.com: under Public Art Tours select Downtown Reno Mural & Public Art Tour. On the map, click the blue pin between W. Liberty St. and California Ave. Viola! The “Early to Rise” box pops up. The virtual downtown tour includes other murals by Erik Burke as well.

Participants of the “Downtown Mural and Burning Man Art Tour” at
theEarly to Risemural
I joined the docent-led “Downtown Mural and Burning Man Art Tour” on the opening day of Artown. It was a Saturday and the parking lot in front of the mural was empty. Enough space to dance and to take pictures without parked cars blocking the view. The docent explained that Burke often paints off photos. Obviously, he turned his photo by 90 degrees to fittingly cover the low, long wall. Do we see dancers or dreamers? My guess is both! The father is spiritually sundancing with his young daughter in a yellow-green setting contrasting the silver-black walls of the art museum in the background. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Year of the waterfalls


Meeks Creek Falls
This year the Reno-Tahoe area is awash with waterfalls. You will find waterfalls and streams of cascading water at places you may remember as dry or barely wettened by water. My top discovery this spring was the splashing water of Meeks Creek off the Tahoe Yosemite Trail near its north-end trailhead at Meeks Bay.

A waterfall next to Van Sickle Trail
A waterfall next to Van Sickle Trail
While hiking or mountain biking along the Van Sickle Trail, one passes various smaller falls framed by lush green trees and bushes: scenic waterfalls on one side of the trail and spectacular vistas of Stateline, Lake Tahoe and the Pacific Crest when view-switching to the other side.

All that is left of the Thunder Mountain Trail waterfall bridge
All that is left of the Thunder Mountain Trail waterfall bridge
Impressive cascading falls can also be seen near the Village at Squaw Valley: climb uphill on Thunder Mountain Trail toward Squaw Peak for about one mile and you will be in front of water rushing down from the upper skiing slopes and camps. The trail bridge over the line of waterfalls didn't survive the winter season. In case you want to continue uphill or get onto the Western States Trail, you need to detour via the maintenance roads.

More waterfalls—wild or serene—can be found in the Carson Range east of  Lake Tahoe: Hunter Creek Falls near Reno, Galena Creek's Tamarack Peak Waterfall southwest of  Mount Rose,  Carson City's Lower Kings Canyon and Upper Kings Canyon waterfalls and  Genoa Canyon's waterfall west of Genoa (see Genoa Trail Systems)

Friday, March 31, 2017

The former home of the “Mistress of Vikingsholm” in Reno

Lora Knights winter home in Reno's historic Powning Addition
Lora Knights winter home in Reno, designed by Frederic DeLongchamps
You certainly have seen the house on your stroll alongside the Truckee river or on your way to the Hub Coffee Roasters: it was once the home of Lora Josephine Knight, known as the Mistress of Vikingsholm. The house at 615 Jones Street is said to have served as her winter home, when Vikingsholm, her Scandinavian Dream home, at Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay was snow-buried.

Although not a landmark like Vikingsholm, Lora's house at the junction of Jones Street with Riverside Drive has its place in Reno's history [1]:

Lora's Reno “winter home” as she called it,the Frederic DeLongchamps-designed house at 615 Jones Street, also served as stopping-off place for her friends on their way to and from Vikingsholm. Located in Reno's historic Powning Addition, the structure is currently occupied by R&R Partners, an advertising and public relations firm, and is a feature of the annual Reno Harvest of Homes tour conducted by the Historic Reno Preservation Society.

Lora Knight also owned a winter home in Santa Barbara [2]. I am not sure if there was a time overlap, during which she had two winter homes. But one may be right to assume that her “little Reno house” was not only a stopping-off place for her friends, but for herself as well: a short stay to continue to Emerald Bay.

References and more to explore
[1] Philip I. Earl: Lora Josephine Knight: Mistress of Vikingsholm. Nevada in the West, Fall & Winter, 2016; pp. 10-12.
[2] Vikingsholm: Tahoe's Hidden Castle [vikingsholm.com/].

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Basque Sheepherder Monument at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno, Nevada

The Basque Sheepherder Monument with UNR's hillside letter “N” in the background
The Basque Sheepherder Monument is located northwest of the University of Reno, Nevada, surrounded by a few trees and sagebrush next to the Rancho San Rafael disc golf course. This is where the hilly landscape of the lower Peavine area with its many hiking and mountain biking trails merges with Reno neighborhoods. The monument platform offers fantastic views of the Truckee Meadows and the slopes of the Peavine mountain including the white hillside-letter “N”.

The 23-feet tall bronze sculpture is the work of the Basque sculptor Nestor Basterretxea, who gave the monument the title “Bakardade,” or “Solitude” [1,2]. It takes an attention-paying view of the relatively abstract bronze column to see what it depicts. The sculpture shows a shepherd carrying a lamb over his shoulder under a full moon.
Map of the Unites States indicating Basque Settlements
The first generation of Basque immigrants to the United States were mostly sheepherds. The bronze map of the United States at the base of the sculpture depicts areas in which Basques settled and their descendents live. Basque historic sites are found in various and remote places throughout the west-American landscape; for example at Whiskey Creek Camp, a former Basque sheepherder's camp in the Branite Chief Wilderness west of the Five Lakes basin.

Basques are diaspora people living in may parts of the globe. Even the Basque Country, their homeland in northeast Spain and southwest France, may be considered as part of the diaspora, as the out-of-Asia theory is supported by scientific evidence. On the back cover of the book by Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe in the series “Images of America“ with the title “The Basques of Reno and the Northeastern Sierra we read:

Thanks to DNA research, the Basque of the Pyrenees Mountains are no longer the “mystery people.” Thirty-five thousand years ago, they traveled from Central Asia to Western Europe, where they still live, speaking a language unlike any other. After helping Columbus discover America, Basques spread out from the Pampas to California and beyond into the Sierra and Reno, Nevada.

New plaques with names of Basque sheepherders
The original bronze plaques at the monument, tributing to the story of Basque emigration to the Unites States, were stolen a few years ago. The plaques have been reconstructed and are now replaced by steel plaques thanks to support from the Washoe County Open Space and Regional Parks Commission [2].


Getting to The National Monument To The Basque Sheepherder

Take exit 13 on Interstate 80 in Reno and head north on Virginia Street. Pass the intersection of Virginia street and North McCarran Blvd. and then turn left (west) to get to the parking area at the Reno Sports Complex (2975 North Virginia Street). Park for free. Find the trail map kiosk in the northwest corner of the parking area, where the disc golfers enter “their” territory. A short, northwest-bound trail is your access to the monument platform.
Alternately, if you like to combine strolling and hiking, walk through the Wilbur D. May Arboretum toward Herman's Pond and further to the McCarran underpass. Pass through and hike uphill between the grove and the disc golf  sites.

Continue exploring Reno-Tahoe.

References and more to explore

[1] Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe: The Basques of Reno and the Northeastern Sierra. Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2009.
[2] Basque Sheepherder Monument: Restoration [www.nabasque.org/Astero/monument.htm].

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci resting on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno

“Inside the Mind of da Vinci” sculpture at University of Nevada, Reno (UNR)
A giant head lies on the snow-covered lawn between the Virginia Street parking garage and the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center: the head of a Giant of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci [1-3]. This larger-than-life sculpture is made out of  diverse materials (concrete, bronze, metal, glass). The snow above the beard is temporary; it's not left-over shaving foam. As I understand, Leonardo never shaved. He did not portray himself, but every portrait made by other artists shows him with his magnificient flowing beard [4]. And now here it flows on a Nevada campus about halfway-around-the-world away from Leonardo da Vinci's original places of creativity.

Although Leonardo was interested in both body and mind, this sculpture by artist Mischell Riley and her team wants to highlight the mind. The title of this sculpture project is “Inside the Mind of da Vinci.” The back of the head allows you to walk into the open head and get in touch with its inner sides, which reveal etchings of Leonardo's sketches and writings; a section of which is shown below.


The da Vinci head had its debut in the desert: at the Burning Man 2016 event, which had its art theme inspired by the Italian Renaissance [5]. A flyer next to the sculpture outlines further details and the travel route of the head:

Fresh off the playa of Burning Man 2016, this larger than life sculpture head of Leonardo da Vinci weighs seven tons and is made of concrete, bronze, recycled glass and metal. Walk behind the sculpture to view some of da Vinci's sketches and writings and draw inspiration from this famous polymath. Imagine what your mind can do! Artist Mischell Riley created the sculpture prototype using 3D scanning and print to-scale modeling in the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library. Inside the Mind of Da Vinci was unveiled at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center on November 17, 2016. The exhibit will move to a permanent home in Carson City in May 2017.

Seven tons of head. Maybe one ton of beard? And a weigh-less mind that still creates heavy impacts on the flows and directions of our current endeavours in the arts and sciences.

References and more to explore
[1] Nevada Sagebrush: Look inside the mind of da Vinci [nevadasagebrush.com/blog/2016/11/29/look-inside-the-mind-of-da-vinci/].
[2] University of Nevada, Reno: Inside the Mind of da Vinci [events.unr.edu/event/inside_the_mind_of_da_vinci#.WJZGTn8bBxg].
[3] Mischell Riley: Inside the Mind of da Vinci [www.hatchfund.org/project/inside_the_mind_of_davinci].
[4] Bearded Legends - Leonardo da Vinci [legendsbeard.com/b/bearded-legends-leonardo-da-vinci/].
[5] Burning Man: 2016 Art Theme: Da Vinci's Workshop [burningman.org/culture/history/brc-history/event-archives/2016-event-archive/2016-art-theme-da-vincis-workshop/].