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Yes, But, What Does The Desert Mean?

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"Seven Sisters," oil on canvas, by Suzanne Hackett-Morgan

When you think of the desert, what does it mean to you? 
 
Is it a lonely, desolate void, where nothing grows? Or is it a peaceful landscape — a place where people find themselves? 
 
Maybe it’s both, or neither, or maybe it's something else entirely.
 
 
Montana Black is the curator of the show. She grew up in Southern Nevada and has always loved its stark beauty. 
 

“I’m born and raised here, and this desert has always been a very magical, special, beautiful place, and I had never used it as a subject matter before,” Black said. "It made perfect sense to use the environment in which I was in."

She said people who are new to the area are often struck by the mountains and how the lack large evergreen trees. Newcomers describe them as "naked," but Black says she corrects them by saying the mountains are "nude" and beautiful.

In addition to paintings and drawings of the Mojave Desert, Black included poetry in the exhibition.

One of the poets featured in the show is Angela Brommel, a transplant from the Midwest, who said it took her a few years to embrace the beauty of the desert.

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“The minute I started really looking … Then all of the sudden I was saying, ‘Wow, the Mojave is purple. It’s mauve. It’s pink.' All of the sudden I was overwhelmed by all I could see," she said.

Bobbi Ann Howell is manages the Nevada Humanities Las Vegas Program Gallery. She also grew up in Southern Nevada. She said people often see the Mojave Desert as an "unknown territory," so the exhibit includes information and maps of the area.

“That is some of what’s in this exhibit, and some of what we do at the program gallery, is to try to have a conversation with our community about the space, our history, the people in it," she said.

It is that education portion of the exhibit that Black hopes visitors will take away with them.

“The takeaway is that they are intrigued to explore this desert themselves and to look at its many layers," she said — and not just the physical layers of plants and animals, but the spiritual layers of our desert home.

The show is on display through January. "Hands-On Make Your Own Art or Poetry Button" will take place Wednesday, Dec. 20, from 1 to 5 p.m., and Angela Brommel, Joan Robinson and Julie Brown will read their poetry Thursday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m.

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"Stone Lithography" by Anne Hoff

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"Mojave" by Kathleen Nathan

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"Mojave in July" by Angela Brommel

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"Mojave Katryume" by Jeanne Voltura

Guests

Montana Black, painter and curator; Bobbie Ann Howell, artist and gallery manager, Nevada Humanities; Angela Brommel, poet and professor, Nevada State College

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