Disclosure: Double Scoop reports from inside the art world, and sometimes we report on people we know. Rossitza Todorova, the curator of this exhibition, is a colleague of author Miles Hall at Truckee Meadows Community College. Artist Elaine Parks is a Double Scoop board member.
howing in Reno’s Metro Gallery at City Hall until June 9 is a group show titled Between Earth and Sky. This exhibition is curated by Reno’s current City Artist Rossitza Todorova. Including painting, photography, sculpture, and mixed media, it aims to provide viewers with different ways of seeing the place in which we live. It does this by bringing together 13 visions of the Great Basin from 13 different artists. Selected for their focus and commitment to the Nevada landscape, they all live and work in various places around the state. Todorova has organized the show with five different modes of artistic communication in mind: materiality, documentation, abstraction, metaphor, and depiction.
Melissa Melero-Moose paints sand, bits of pine nut, willow, and cattail into her surfaces, physically encasing them with acrylic medium. These organic materials are all essential to her Numu (Northern Paiute) culture. Galen Brown’s ink drawings are reminiscent of woodcuts, but mimic the rhythms of Lake Tahoe’s varied wave patterns. Working in Elko County, Elaine Parks is showing a multi-media star-scape of wood and pearl. All these speak through the mode of materiality.
Under the rubric of metaphor, we are presented with sculptures by Gail Rappa and a painting by Asa Kennedy. Kennedy’s diamond shaped piece shows us a painted desert floor, whose topsoil mysteriously sits like drooping carpet across a series of structural planks. Rappa’s wood and metal boxes, mounted to the wall, bind together notions of home and nature.
Three photographers—Kirsten Mashinter, Gerald Lee Franzen, and Scott Hinton—provide the focus for Todorova’s category of documentation. Respectively, their works observe minute and overlooked flora, note color changes in the desert through the day, and record zones where human development meets wilderness. Within the realm of abstraction, we have two large, freely painted canvases. In one, Rachel Stiff seems to pour, spray and spread her material to evoke transitory natural effects. Her paint could be reminiscent of things like melting snow, dried lava, or floating clouds. In Austin Pratt’s picture, a painterly glob of orange, perhaps fire, protrudes spikes from its underbelly and floats in front of something like a horizon.
As for depiction: Sidne Teske’s large, colorful pastel drawing on red sandpaper captures the play of light and shadow over sagebrush and across banks of snow. Two muted tone harmonies by Ahren Hertel articulate spare, atmospheric hills layered and patterned with low lying vegetation. And finally, there is an energetic acrylic by Grace Davis, a flurry of pinks surrounding looped contours, liquid dashes and staccato dots that coalesce as native flowers.
Overall, this show gives us a sample of the Great Basin, something like a tour of various artistic voices from around the state who have for years immersed themselves in it.
Between Earth and Sky is on view at the Metro Gallery in Reno City Hall through June 9, with a reception May 18 from 5-7 pm.
An exhibition catalog, Between Earth and Sky: Exploring the Great Basin through the Eyes of Northern Nevada Artists, by Rossitza Todorova and Brett Van Hoesen, ($20), is available here.
Photo of Galen Brown’s work courtesy of Frances Melhop. All other photos courtesy of the artists.