The Nevada Museum of Art has launched an ambitious project that connects Nevada’s two big cities, Reno and Las Vegas – bringing its artists together under one roof.
The project is called “Tilting the Basin: Contemporary Art of Nevada,” and it’s showing in Reno now through Oct. 23. In the spring, the show will travel to Las Vegas, where the venue and dates are yet to be determined.
The show was curated by JoAnne Northrup and Michele Quinn. Northrup is the curatorial director and curator of contemporary art at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. Michele Quinn is a curator and private adviser at MCQ Fine Art in Las Vegas.
“Michele Quinn and I, from the start, thought of this exhibition as a way of more closely knitting our communities together,” Northrup said.
She said artists in Northern and Southern Nevada have somewhat different styles that are informed by the environments they live and work in.
“I would say a lot of Las Vegas artists’ work is informed by culture, whereas many of the Northern Nevada artists’ work is informed by nature,” Northrup said.
But there are also similarities, Quinn said.
“We definitely see the difference, but yet there were so many parallels as well,” Quinn said. “It wasn’t one aesthetic driving the north and one aesthetic driving the south. I think there was a lot of crossover as well.”
Asked to name quintessential Reno and Las Vegas artists who appear in the exhibition, Northrup pointed to Katie Lewis, an artist with a meditative process whose work is informed by mapping. “It’s subtle, it’s sensitive, it’s meticulous,” Northrup said.
Gaelen Brown of Carson City is the only rural artist to appear in the show.
Quinn said the question was like being asked who her favorite child is, but said it would be a tie between David Ryan and Sush Machida for their use of color, shape and form seen in the neon signs and architecture of Las Vegas.
But it’s important to note that both artists show internationally, she said.
“I don’t think we want to be pigeonholed as, ‘it’s a Las Vegas artist,’” Quinn said. “I think all of these artists want to be considered globally recognized artists. That’s the challenge there, too.”
Still, the work being done here differs from work being made in surrounding states, Northup said: “It couldn’t be the same work coming out of Utah because Nevada’s different. We have a really specific personality, and these artists are celebrating that."
JoAnne Northrup, Curatorial Director and Curator of Contemporary Art, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Michele Quinn, curator and private advisor, MCQ Fine Art
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