Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tahoe: A Visual History

The exhibition Tahoe: A Visual History in Reno's Nevada Museum of Art surveys two centuries of cultural creativity and recreational experiences on and around Lake Tahoe.  This historic exhibition features hundreds of objects including paintings, sketches, prints, postcards, photography and Native American art and devices. Basket collections, Bierstadt sceneries, historical maps—you'll find it here.

The Tahoe Watershed by Maya Lin, literally pinned to the large wall of the contemporary gallery, introduces visitors to the larger Tahoe area. Lake Tahoe and its tributaries are “nailed” onto the white wall by straight pins. Lin's sculptured floor installation with the title Secchi Point features oversized glass water droplets, representing annual rainfall totals in the Tahoe basin over the past 50 years. The nearby fiberglass sphere Around the Vast Blue by Russell Crotty incorporates passages from Mark Twain's Roughing It. The Twain text is written onto the mountain slopes surrounding Lake Tahoe; all projected onto the hanging sphere. Tom Killion's woodcut print Lake Tahoe from Maggie's Peak, Desolation Wilderness (2006) provides a Lake Tahoe overview—back in time without any buildings or roads.
Lake Tahoe's southwest shore

One common theme of the exhibition is water, naturally. Between deep blue and snow white, water is presented in all its forms and settings: lakes, lakelets, creeks, rivulets, waterfalls, ice, snow cover and clouds. Edwin Deakin's Cascade Falls Near Lake Tahoe (oil on canvas, 1877) gives us a nineteenth-century view of a pristine waterfall in a Sierra conifer forest. Gregory Kondos zooms in and depicts Emerald Bay (oil-on-canvas, 2001). Compare this painting with Ansel Adam's gelatine silver print from 1952 with the same title. In contrast to the solitude expressed by these artists, Thomas Bachand shows the increasing presence of people on the lake in Three Seconds on the Fourth of July, Emerald Bay (2003), with a leisurely armada of boats cruising around Fannette Island.

Phyllis Shafer is present with Lake Tahoe from the East Shore (2011) and Above Cave Rock (2014)—both oil-on-canvas paintings with her characteristic clouds that swirl across the sky, harmoniously resonating with the lakescape and landscape below.

The Lake Tahoe's Golden Age section of the exhibit features 19th century painters such as Raymond D. Yelland, William Keith, Thomas Hill, Albert Bierstadt, Frederick Ferdinand Schafer, Edwin Deakin, Norton Bush, Julian Rix, Lorenzo P. Latimer and Frederick A. Butman.

Since I am living in Reno, I have often hiked up to Church's Pond off the Jones Whites Loop Trail. For a long time, I was wondering what this hidden body of water in the shadow of Mount Rose is named after. The pond name honors James Edward Church, whose gelatine silver print Lake Tahoe from the Summit of Mount Rose (circa 1910) is part of the visual history exhibition. A note next to the photograph introduces the UNR professor:

Mount Rose Summit (2013)
Dr. James Church, an early climate scientist and cofounder of the Nevada Museum of Art, pioneered the field of snow surveying on Mount Rose beginning in 1906. He took this panoramic photograph of Lake Tahoe from the top of Mount Rose around 1910.

Wow! A branch of climate research, more relevant today than ever before, originated in Reno over hundred years ago.

The Tahoe exhibit not only brings art and science together, but features many other fields of human activity and enterprise around “The Lake” including  the traditional craftsmanship of the Washoe people and also sports, tourism, and architecture. The hypothetical study model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Summer Colony and his pencilled cabins and barges stand for a dream that never came true in the Wright-way, but captures the human longing for nature and leisure associated with the imagination Lake Tahoe triggers:  

Having visited Lake Tahoe once, and only very briefly, Frank Lloyd Wright designed one of the most remarkable architectural additions to Lake Tahoe in 1923. The Summer Colony, as he referred to it, was never realized.

On the bright side, a panoramic and inspiring Tahoe exhibition has successfully been realized. It is going to be closed January 10, 2016, and will leave many memorable traces with all who came for a visit.

References and more to explore
[1] Nevada Museum of Art: Tahoe: A Visual Tour [].
[2] Lake Tahoe News: Museum exhibit captures Tahoe in its totality [].
[3] KQED Arts: From Baskets to Bierstadt, Tahoe's Visual History Stuns [].

Friday, November 20, 2015

An arts and music initiative in Reno's Midtown: The Holland Project

The permanent home of the Holland Project in Reno, Nevada
With the mission Art, music, culture. By young people, for young people the Holland Project offers diverse workshop opportunities to Reno's Midtown community and beyond [1]. The recently bought building at 140 Vesta Street in south Midtown provides a permanent home for the youth-based alternative arts organization, where workshops are hosted, music events take place and a go-to art space invites the public to visit visual exhibits. The Holland Project Gallery has a Blogspot site [2]. The Holland building is located in a performance-oriented, cultural and educational neighborhood including the Reno Little Theater (RLT), the Stremmel Gallery, the Rainshadow Community Charter High School and other places to meet, entertain and interact.   

Don't feel excluded while pondering the above by-young, for-young mission. The Holland Project is run by young people, but caters to all free-spirited age groups, as their site with posted events promises [3]: The Holland Project Always all-ages. All the time.  

References and more to explore
[1] About the Holland Project [].
[2] The Holland Project Gallery [].
[3] The Holland Project Blog [].