St. Mary’s to host Artists and Artisans Art Faire |

St. Mary’s to host Artists and Artisans Art Faire

Cora Jeffreys
For the Nevada Appeal
The St. Mary’s Art + Retreat Center with paintings of Nes Lerpa of Denmark imposed in front of the center
Courtesy of Frances Melhop |

Celebrating its 50th year anniversary as an Art + Retreat Center, St. Mary’s will be hosting the Artists and Artisans Art Faire from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $1.

Featuring more than 40 artists, all local to the Comstock region, including Jake Houston & the Tin Can String Band, the faire provides unique artworks of all genres that prove to be thoughtful and charming gifts for friends and family.

Creative Director, Frances Melhop, fashioned the fundraiser to help keep St. Mary’s open for business through the winter and expose the Comstock community to local, national and international artists.

“It is important to keep the building open over winter because there is so much potential for artists who need isolation and peace such as writers and composers, and the community should still have access to the building and creative spaces,” said Melhop.

Melhop was location scouting for an editorial commission for Italian Vogue Sposa Magazine when she was in need of a darkroom, for another project, and was pointed in the direction of St. Mary’s by a fellow artist. When the darkroom wasn’t exactly in working order, she revamped the space, and from then on, volunteered to help get the center up to its current standing as well as work toward future endeavors for the center.

St. Mary’s creative programming was re-established by Melhop in 2013. She found the geography of the building inspirational; to be somewhat isolated in a Victorian structure, in the Wild West, which would be an incredible experience, not to mention a bit odd for an artist from overseas or a national artist from say New York.

“The goal is to bring extremely talented artists with world class cultural works of art to the Comstock region, that wouldn’t have been seen unless the potential viewer has prior knowledge of the artists and is travelling long distances,” Melhop said.

In-residence artists are welcome to stay at the center for one to two months to venture on projects while showing their artwork. Recently featured were Karen Hampton from Los Angeles, Stewart Easton and Claire Scully of the United Kingdom, Milla van der Have from Holland and Heather Hayward from New Zealand. Currently presenting is internationally acclaimed Nes Lerpa of Denmark.

Not all featured artists have been international, though. Currently showing is local artist Megan Berner, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Jessica White, UNR fine arts graduate. The stairwells also showcase the work of high school students. Currently showing is Reno High School’s best from the advanced art class.

Melhop said St. Mary’s is working toward programming for children and youth, because of arts budget cuts in schools. She said the center is a place for artists to work together in a non virtual environment, and is open to artists who are “established, emerging, midcareer … in many genres of art.”

St. Mary’s is located at 55 North R St., in Virginia City, next to the high school.