Carson City art gallery celebrates 40th anniversary
Nevada Artists Association Art Gallery
“Step by step, bit by bit, stone by stone … yeah … Brick by brick.” You can almost hear the voice of Annie Lennox singing “Step by Step” as you recollect the history of Nevada Artists Association Art Gallery. The Nevada Artists Association Art Gallery marks its 40th year as a brick-and-mortar gallery in Carson City on the Brewery Arts Campus.
It all began as the dream of a small collection of volunteer artists from Carson City, Reno, Truckee, Smith Valley, Fallon, Genoa and what was called Stewart, now referred to as South Carson. The original members of Nevada Artists Association started a project called “the Gallery Project” by buying a “brick” at each meeting beginning in the early 1950s. Little did they know that the campus they would be instrumental in purchasing, the Brewery Arts building would be made primarily of the same material.
Having outgrown their initial building on Washington Street, they sold that building and donated the proceeds to the Carson City Arts Alliance in order to join with a theater group called the Promethium Players, pooling their resources they were able to obtain a matching grant from the state of Nevada and acquired “the Brewery” building on West King Street, known today as the Brewery Arts Center. They sponsored art classes and workshops from the gate and got to work on renovating the Gallery. On May 11, 1979, they opened their gallery doors and the sweet breeze of the arts blew through the capital city forever uplifting her cultural atmosphere.
In returning to the source, original member and one of the key organizers of the Nevada Artists Association Gallery, 95-year-old Pat Holub said, “It was a wonderful experience and I loved the gals I worked with” to make it happen. In all, she said, “There were 12 of us who started the gallery.” Though Holub can’t remember the names of all 12, those who appear to have been highly active at the time from the historical records are Holub, Donna Jensen, Rhoda Shedd, Thelma Calhoun, June Metzel, Dorothy Paulson, Virginia Harsh, Cathy Bevers, Betty Helgren and the honorary “original gals” or OGs, Paul Firden and Bill Bevers.
Of the OGs of the 12, Jensen was acting president at the time the Nevada Artists Association Art Gallery made its grand debut.
“Donna Jensen is a wonderful person,” said Holub. “She and her husband are involved in everything. I think it’s just grand that she’s been working hard since the beginning.”
As a bonafide OG, Jensen has volunteered and served in a leadership role, such as president, show chairman and gallery director since the gallery opened in spring 1979 and well before that with Nevada Artists Association. She moved to Carson City with her growing family 51 years ago.
“Most of my time in Carson City has been spent as an artist,” Jensen said, now focused on glass art but who began painting in oils and pastels, which are some of the most popular items in the Gallery. “We started out slow and have been moving forward over the years,” she notes, citing improvements such as new carpeting and gallery wall boards and appreciates the work the current board is doing to advance their online presence and exposure in the community.
One funny story she recounts is when they hired a judge to jury one of their Senate Chamber shows. They paid him $50, or $175 today, and offered to take him to lunch once the judging had been completed. In a matter of minutes, he ran through the show making his determinations saying, “This one, this one and this one,” then turned to the small panel of members and said, “OK, let’s go to lunch.” Not only was Jensen not impressed, but, in her opinion, “He picked the ugliest ones.”
As a tribute to its 40th anniversary, the Nevada Artists Association Art Gallery membership chairman Debbie Foster has been working relentlessly to add 40 new members. They just achieved this goal in early May, just in time to celebrate the 40th. Though the major celebration is slated for October in conjunction with Nevada Day, it’s apropos to mark the anniversary now as well since the actual opening of the gallery occurred in May 1979. Forty years later, the NAA is proud to present its Landscape Show running now through June 14 and featuring 89 new fine arts paintings and photographs. With a new show going up approximately every six weeks, there will always be new eye candy to discover.
Throughout the year, the NAA Art Gallery shows boast work from well-known local artists, photographers and 3D artists such as Walter Daniels, Maggie Stillwell, Richard Carr, Fred Howland, LaVonne Vasick, Pam Brekas, Howard Friedman, Vickie Kingman, Bob Hickox, Johnye Saylor, Jim Markle, Reta Hanks, Candida “Candy” Webb, Ruthann Wagner, Abe Medina and Jensen. All work is available for visual enjoyment and purchase. They welcome new members all the time.
The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at 449 W. King St. on the Brewery Art Campus in Carson City. General information can be found at http://www.nevadaartists.org. For questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 775-882-6411.
The amazing impact that this initially small group of local artists has had on our surrounding community is immeasurable. May we always reflect upon their contributions and be grateful for their willingness to roll up their sleeves and build not only a fabulous art gallery and center for the arts but an art movement that will continue to serve our community for many years to come.