Do you recognize the name Mackay? At UNR, there’s Mackay Stadium, the Mackay Mines Building, and Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering. They’re named for John Mackay, head of one of Reno’s wealthiest and most powerful families ever. He was born in Ireland in 1831, came to the US as a child, and eventually made his way to Virginia City. In the 1860s and ’70s, he bought mines, invested in mines, and made a fortune.
In 1906, a few years after Mackay’s death, a painter named John White Alexander make a portrait of Katherine Mackay, John Mackay’s daughter-in-law. The painting is huge—about 10 feet tall—and in it, Katherine looks like a turn-of-the-century movie star playing a Greek goddess in a gauzy, pale blue, floor-length gown.
As of a few years ago, the painting was in pretty rough shape. It was sent to Oakland to be conserved, and tonight, Friday, June 21, it will be unveiled to the public.
I talked with Paul Baker Prindle, director of the Lilley Museum of Art, about why and how the painting was conserved.
An unveiling and reception will be held today from 5 to 6:30 in the Lilley Museum at UNR. In other news, after six years as director of University Art Galleries, today, Friday June 21, is Baker Prindle’s last day on campus. After tonight’s event, he steps down to move to a curatorial position at California State University, Long Beach.