Friday, July 6, 2018

Reno Playa Art Park

Identity Awareness Family
You will encounter sculptures and murals around every corner in Reno. The downtown Reno Playa Art Park—across from the Circus Circus casino murals at 520 N Virginia Street—is a place surrounded by painted walls that features a yearly changing assembly of sculptures. These are installations you, or your children, can walk through and climb on. As the name of this urban sculpture sanctum suggests, the objects give a playful Burning Man flair.  Once, they actual were part of a Burning Man event.

The Reno Playa Art Project was a Burning Man 2017 Global Art Grant recipient. The art piece called Identity Awareness Family, shown above, was created by Shane Pitzer, who has experienced Burning Man with his whole family. The large heart is kept in balance by family members signifying love and support for each other. Next to the heart stands the sculpture named It's A Chicken And Egg Situation by Andrea Greenless and Andy Tibbetts.  Here, children climb the chicken frame; while it was on the Playa, the chicken contained pillow-like, foam-filled eggs for Burners to lie on, hug or contemplate about the traditional chicken-and-egg riddle.

Lumpy the Gate Skull was created for the 2017 Burning Man by Reno locals,  Jeremy Evans and Bill Tubman. The skull was placed at the Playa entrance. It was the first peace of art seen by participants and will return to the Playa event of this year.

Climbing the skull: Lumpy the Gate Skull

The experimental installation Trasparenza (frequently misspelled Transparenza) by Andrea Greenlees is made from laser-cut, clear cast acrylic panels. This Leonardo-da-Vinci-inspired, seethrough sculpture can be entered. The imagery of geometric patterns can be enjoyed from both inside and outside. 

Temple of Transparency: Trasparenza

Another acrylic-based sculpture is the Electric Dandelion by Abram Santa Cruz. Actually, there are two. These LED-animated structures come to life at night, when they simulate a firework show. 

One of the two Electric Dandelions
One of the two Electric Dandelions

Note:  My brief descriptions of the Playa Art Park creations are based on the onsite #renoplayaartproject board.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Bandalooping down Reno's City Hall

Renoites love the verticals. The downtown climbing wall has been a spectacular hotspot for years. After a vertical dancefloor rehearsal on June 30, Artown 2018 was opened the next day with an amazing performance by Bandaloop from Oakland, California. The cloud-reflecting windows of the south-facing side of the Reno City Hall served as the vertical platform—or should I say background—for the aerial dancers. Here are a few snapshots.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

2018 Reno Rodeo Parade through Midtown

Reno Rodeo wagon in the parade celebrating the Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West

On the morning of Saturday, June 16, the Reno Rodeo Parade took place along Virginia Street in Reno's Midtown. Locals and visitors enjoyed the different parade entries at the Virginia/Arroyo staging area and the various performances while the parade moved north towards Liberty Street. You bet, horses and lasso(e)s were the theme. Not to mention all the cowgirls and cowboys in action. And there was much more to see—and to get. Here are a few snapshots.

Parade participants on their way through Forest Street to the staging area

The dairy coach of the Nevada Dairy Council

The Rodeo Express Train

Little Cowboy

To watch rodeo competitions, bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding, steer wrestling and other perfomances you need to schedule ahead for a visit at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. During the parade, lasso-swinging boys and girls were trying to get the spectators in rodeo mood.

Goodies thrown from an oversize shopping cart

You need to be fast to get the best of the goodies

McQueen drummers passing India Kabab

End-of-parade interview with a little cowgirl

Après-parade poop control

Saddle up!

Reno Rodeo:

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Dedication of a monument to German-Nevadan artist Hans Meyer-Kassel at the Genoa Courthouse Museum on May 19, 2018

The Genoa Courthouse Museum after unveiling the Hans Meyer-Kassel monument

Brooks (right) and Bacon (left) after unveiling
Hans Meyer-Kassel (1872-1952) was a classically trained artist—a native of northern Hessia in Germany—who lived and painted in Nevada after his arrival in the Silver State in 1937. A current exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno features an impressive collection of his landscapes, still lifes, arctic ocean scenes and portraits. On May 19, a monument, in honor and memory of Meyer-Kassel, was dedicated in Genoa, where the painter lived “until the last day of his life in 1952, when he simply laid down his brushes for an afternoon nap and never awoke” [1].

The Hans Meyer-Kassel monument was unveiled by the artist's nephew Bill Brooks and author Jack Bacon. The dedication in front of the Genoa Courthouse Museum was a community event in the presence of far over fifty people—officials, locals, and visitors. Some shared their memories of having met Meyer-Kassel in person, who painted portraits of locals as well as landscapes of Carson Valley, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and various other scenic places of northern Nevada. 

Comstock musicians performed on the museum's porch before and after the unveiling ceremony

Jack Bacon writes [2]:

In Genoa, Meyer-Kassel found what he had been searching for his entire life—a place where he could focus solely on his art. As Maria said in a 1976 interview, “My husband was very happy because he found the tranquility he needed to paint.” It was, she said, their personal Shangri-La, “a place we could live forever.” 

Hans Meyer-Kassel at work

References and more to explore

[1] Hans Meyer-Kassel, “ Nevada Landscape.” NMA Docent Depot. April 3, 2009. Link:

[2] Jack Bacon: Hans Meyer-Kassel, Artist of Nevada. Jack Bacon & Company with the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada, 2018; page 35.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rattlesnake Avoidance Training

A rattlesnake is brought to Benny's attention

Rattler on Halo Trail
Avoiding rattlesnakes during outdoor activities can be challenging. Last fall, I came very close to a rattler on Halo Trail—a single-track hiking and mountain biking trail in the Peavine foothills northwest of Reno. The snake warned me just in time by rattling vigorously.

Humans have evolved to react with a stress response when encountering a snake. Humans, even the curious kind, typically avert snakes. What about dogs?  Do they have an innate fear of snakes? It looks like their is no definitive answer to this question. Dogs that have made a bad experience with an aggressive snake—venomous or not—usually avoid snakes. Otherwise, a dog encountering a rattlesnake may get curious or even in a playful mood resulting in an unpleasant or deadly consequence. Therefore, many dog owners in rattlesnake countries take their dog(s) to a rattlesnake avoidance training or rattlesnake aversion training.

The typical training is a five to ten minute rattlesnake parkour. The dog is guided to places with rattlesnake smell and also to a site with a relatively calm, yet rattling snake. That snake should have gone through veterinary work before put on site where it is handled by a trained person. Although highly unexpected, an actual bite caused by a worked-on snake would be a dry bite.

Benny almost ready for the rattlesnake parkour
I joined a friend to watch her dog, named Benny, making the round near Minden, Nevada. At start, Benny got a remote training collar. The trainer watched Benny's behavior at each station and provided a perfectly-timed low-level stimulation that Benny was supposed to associate with the snake. The idea is that a dog, when detecting a sight, sound or smell of a rattlesnake, memorizes the unpleasant stimulation, creates a reflex and quickly moves away. It worked for Benny. At training's end, we were told to call Benny, with the rattlesnake halfway between us and the dog. Instead of running directly toward us across and over the snake, Benny took a respectful half-circle with a radius of at least five dog-lengths around the snake. Good dog! And a great Thank you! to the good and friendly experts who performed the training.

Benny coming close to where he should smell a rattlesnake

Saturday, May 5, 2018

UNR congratulates German graduates: Herzlichen Glückwunsch Absolventen!

Herzlichen Glückwunsch Absolventen! Congratulations, graduates - German
Mai 2018 - May 2018

The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) congratulates its foreign graduates. At the fountain next to Morrill Hall, I came across this posted banner that congratulates the graduates from German-speaking countries. The German word for graduate is Absolvent. Herzlichen Glückwunsch translates as congratulations. Accounting for the adjective herzlich associated with the noun Glückwunsch, the literal translation is hearty congratulation or cordial congratulation—considered to be too formal these days. So, the plural form congratulations is just fine.   

Friday, March 16, 2018

Snow-tree silhouette at the Nevada Museum of Art

Black-and white: snow-covered trees and bushes at NMA (March 16, 2018)
With the last winter weekend approaching, Reno got about a foot of wet snow. This snow has a tendency to stick on roof tops and trees. Occasionally a load of white stuff is slipping off and joins the white carpet on the ground. A great day to take pictures of snow sculptures like the one above at the Nevada Museum of Art (NMA). The exterior wall of the museum—composed of black, zinc-based material—gives the perfect background to contrast snow-white structures in front.

Getting curious what to see at the interior walls?

If you like snow art, you will find paintings of ice and snow landscapes inside the museum. Hans Meyer-Kassel (1872-1952)—with an impressive selection of his art currently exhibited—not only captured the snowy landscapes of northwestern Nevada, but also floating ice in the Arctic Ocean and glacial sceneries of remote Spitzbergen, Norway.