John Barrette

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September 12, 2012
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Cruisin' the Muses for the week of 9/10-14

Until Carson City put me in touch with Tommy, that name called to mind a Rudyard Kipling poem and a Peter Townshend rock opera.

Those cultural icons of the past century don't come close to upstaging Tommy Hughes, a Carson City culture vulture and wine aficianado who knows what he likes and doesn't blush while he gets it.

Tommy, perhaps 19 going on 76, prefers looking at good art rather than bad television.

He's a self-styled reclusive contemplative who gets out occasionally to wear his extroversion on his sleeve. He reads books at home, but hits the town to collect people along with art. He spends most first Saturdays of each month pouring wine at Two Sisters for downtown wine walkers.

Tommy's home is adorned with an art collection from local and area craftsmen and women. Furnished in early Two Sisters, it exudes art rather than just featuring it.

The decor, trending toward the serviceable rather than the fanciful, is pulled together by vivid colors everywhere and the local or area names that grace each piece on every wall.

Tommy displays each painting or piece with pride, garnishing many with an anecdote or laudatory comments.

A retired social worker and teacher whose degree from the University of Nevada, Reno was in social psychology, Tommy worked nearly 15 years at the Northern Nevada Childrens Home until it closed in 1992.

He also did almost a decade at a non-profit and then was a substitute teacher in Carson City and Dayton until a couple of years ago.

Some of his former students' artwork graces the walls along with pieces from better-known artists, and it all hangs together well.

Originally from the City of Angels, Tommy saw much of America knocking about with his on-the-road parents, who were entertainers, before he settled in Northern Nevada.

Among the dozens of artworks, Tommy has pieces by Jeff Nicholson ("He's very pricey, but he does beautiful work"), Don Smiley ("He lives in Bisbee, Ariz. now"), Sigrid Hobbs ("She just likes to see the joy on peoples' faces:), Ulla Norr Warner (of Genoa), Louise Noel Russell (vibrancy in silk), and ... wait for it ... yes, another Tommy.

Tommy E. Shearer, who works in copper and stainless steel, is a California and Nevada artist Tommy Hughes picked up at his favorite downtown art gallery.

"(M)ost of these things here are (from) Artsy Fartsy," he said.

Kipling and Townshend gave us their fictive versions of Tommy via good poetry and rock opera. For yours truly, the real versions called Tommy Shearer and Tommy Hughes bring more to the party.

And the latter brings wine, too.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Sep 12, 2012 05:48PM Published Sep 12, 2012 05:47PM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.