A new gallery opened in June in the historic wool and flour warehouse in Minden. It’s an inviting space with warm, wood floors in the front room of Mike Miller’s Prism Photographics, and it’s called Art Gallery@Prism.
The gallery represents artists from the Northwest Nevada and Sierra regions, ranging approximately from Yosemite to Susanville to Placerville to Sacramento, and including Reno, Sparks, and Carson Valley.
Exhibitions rotate monthly, and each one has a theme. “The July show was a Western show,” said gallery director and watercolor painter LaVonne LaTulip Vasick. “August was a Hot August Nights show.” In October, fall colors warmed the gallery in the Sierra Nevada Landscape Show, and the Nov/Dec Wildlife & Holiday Exhibition opened last week.
Art Gallery@Prism shows are competitive. Vasick said that over 100 artists submitted work for the first show in June, but each exhibition is limited to 24-30 artists. At the same time, she aims to create a supportive community of artists—in part by providing professional development advice.
“We mentor the artist as far as presentation,” Vasick said, pointing out how she presents her own paintings: Professional framing, a rack of shrink-wrapped, matted prints that viewers can flip through, and certificates of authenticity on print reproductions for collectors’ peace of mind.
Each month, Prism also highlights an artist who’s new to the world of art sales. “We say, ‘Let’s bring them in and show them how to exhibit in a fine art gallery.'” Vasick said. The volunteer gallery staff coaches these emerging artists on things like how to price their work, and how to make and market reproductions.
Vasick said she’d been thinking about opening a gallery for years, so, when she saw an opportunity earlier this year, she proceeded despite the pandemic.
“I believe, before this hit, Carson Valley was on the fast track to being an art destination,” she said. “A lot of people from Tahoe were coming down, looking for art. We have a ton of artists in this area. Festivals and shows were canceled, and I said, ‘I don’t want to not do this. Let’s just forge ahead.’ And the driving factor was: The artists themselves said, ‘Let’s do it’ because they weren’t getting their workout anywhere.”
For the time being, Prism operates under standard social distancing restrictions. Face masks are required, and receptions are on hold until further notice. Meanwhile, holiday shoppers in the market for regional artwork and fine-art greeting cards can trickle in up to 12 at a time.