Fine Art

‘Contemporary Nevada’ aims to show the best art being created in the Silver State today

A work by David Ryan that showed at MCQ earlier this year.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

With so much good news coming out of the Las Vegas art scene in recent weeks, the Nevada Museum of Art has now released its list of artists to be included in Contemporary Nevada: State of the State, an exhibit designed to showcase what its curators have called the most accomplished work being created by more than 30 artists living and working in Nevada today.

Scheduled to open August 5 at the museum in Reno, it connects artists in both Northern and Southern Nevada and is slated to travel to Las Vegas after it closes in October. It will mark the first time in recent memory where a prominent museum of this scale focuses exclusively on contemporary work coming out of Nevada.

Co-curated by Nevada Museum of Art's Director of Contemporary Art Initiatives JoAnne Northrup and art adviser Michele Quinn, who heads MCQ Fine Art Advisory (and sits on the board of the proposed Modern museum, which has been in dialogue with the Nevada museum) the show is a result of more than 50 studio visits with artists. Though the intent was to show the best work being done here in Nevada, Quinn says it was also imperative to consider artists committed to the communities here, committed to their work and those who showed a continuing evolution in their art. "The work itself had to show longevity in their careers," she said, adding that they'd looked at artists' early work and current practice to get a sense of the trajectory of where they're going.

From Wendy Kveck's Stanley Hall exhibit at Trifecta Gallery.

The 17 artists represented from the Las Vegas area are Chris Bauder, Mark Brandvik, JW Caldwell, Matthew Couper, Gig de Pio, Justin Favela, Sush Machida Gaikotsu, Shawn Hummel, Wendy Kveck, JK Russ, David Ryan, David Sanchez Burr, Sean Slattery, Brent Sommerhauser, Brent Holmes, Krystal Ramirez and Rachel Stiff.

The 16 artists from Northern Nevada are Megan Berner, Rebekah Bogard, Galen Brown, Erik Burke, Nate Clark, Tim Conder, Joseph DeLappe, Russell Dudley, Jeffrey Erickson, Jen Graham, Ahren Hertel, Eunkang Koh, Nick Larsen, Katie Lewis, Sarah Lillegard and Omar Pierce.

“The exhibition aspires to provide contemporary dialogue aimed at enlightening our broader audiences to the richness of our entire arts community and how it can be a powerful tool in the growth of the great state of Nevada,” Northrup said in a statement. “Nevada artists are creating innovative work ranging from painting, sculpture and installation to photography, interactive and sound art. Their work is informed by popular culture, the natural environment and landscape, as well as cultural identity, politics and current events."

The idea for the exhibit came from Nevada Museum of Art's Executive Director and CEO David Walker, who has stated a number of times the importance of a cultural connection between Northern and Southern Nevada. From there, they contacted Quinn, who says the near even representation of artists from both cities wasn't intended, that she and Northrup based their decisions solely on the visits and quality of work.

Six artists' work will be shown in depth to highlight each artist's work in different materials and evolving styles: Galen Brown, Justin Favela, Katie Lewis, David Ryan, Brent Sommerhauser, and Rachel Stiff. "With some artists, such as Galen Brown [in Carson City], one piece just didn't tell the story of them. With David Ryan [in Las Vegas], so much is changing in his work. There's such dialogue you need to tell that story," said Quinn.

"In both cities, for the most part we agreed 99 percent of the time," Quinn added, referring to the artists and their work. "If there was disagreement we had to agree or not put it in the show. We wanted to be sure it was something we both felt strongly about."

The works cover a broad range of styles and materials, from painting, sculpture, drawing and photography to mixed media, street art, installation, sound performance, fiber arts and new media.

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Kristen Peterson

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