Dayton artist started late, but catching up fast

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Dayton artist Alex Gentry displays his "Pine Nut Mountains From Dayton Valley" watercolor in front of the mountains themselves Jan. 12.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Dayton artist Alex Gentry displays his "Pine Nut Mountains From Dayton Valley" watercolor in front of the mountains themselves Jan. 12.

Though he's been drawing since childhood, in the artistic world, Alex Gentry was something of a late bloomer who never felt driven by his art.

The Hawaii native, now living at Dayton's Legado golfing community, works on his drawings and paintings when the spirit moves him, or when he's not busy hiking, golfing or traveling.

"I'm not one of those artists that are driven," he said. "I do other things, and I paint when I get around to it. That's why I don't have as much work."

Gentry said he didn't realize he had enough work for a show. "Most I sell or give away," he said.

The work he does have has won numerous awards and is now on display in the Lyon County Services building through mid-February. His drawings in colored pencil, graphite pencil and ink are there, as are products of his new-found passion, watercolors.

He took a watercolor class at Modesto Junior College in 1996, where he moved a year earlier from his native Oahu to be close to his son and daughter-in-law.

Soon after, he moved to Dayton and began his adventure in watercolors.

"A teacher told me I've got to be freer - let colors flow and mix, but I like to do it exactly," he said.

Two watercolors, "The Pine Nut Mountains from Dayton Valley," done in 2005, and "Cloister, Mission San Juan Capistrano," completed in 2006, won judges' and people's choice awards at the Lyon County Fair in Yerington last summer. They also won prizes at the Lyon County Courthouse Gallery in Yerington.

He's in the process now of painting a landscape of the Dayton area that will include some if its wild horses.

Gentry's method is to take photographs of the area as well as the horses, since, he said jokingly, he had difficulty getting the mustangs to pose.

He then arranges the photos, with the angles that work best, atop the landscape pictures and paints from that model.

Growing up, Gentry, 66, said he didn't have a television, so he and his siblings spent a lot of time, when they weren't outdoors, drawing and coloring.

"TV came a little later over there than it did here," he said.

He joined the U.S. Coast Guard right out of high school and spent the next four years as an apprentice at Hawaiian Electric Co., becoming a draftsman in 1961.

He married, raised a family, and only drew for his own pleasure or to create gifts for friends and family until his retirement in 1995, when he moved to the Mainland to be closer to his children.

He prefers outdoor landscapes in watercolor, thanks partly, he said, to growing up in Hawaii and spending a lot of time outdoors.

He does portraits in graphite pencil, and has painted murals for his grandchildren. He also sells prints of his watercolors and note cards featuring his pencil drawings.

The Lyon County Dayton Gallery, as the exhibit is known, is an offshoot of the Lyon County Courthouse Gallery in Yerington, said Pat Fietta, gallery coordinator.

The galleries get funding from the Nevada Arts Council and Lyon County, and the exhibits change every six to eight weeks.

Artists may sell some of their work at the gallery, with a portion of the sales going to the county, which Fietta uses to purchase permanent pieces for county buildings.

"We're going to have (the gallery) all year," she said. "We're very excited about it."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 351.

If you go

What: Art exhibit featuring Alex Gentry's work

WHEN: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through Feb. 16

WHERE: Lyon County Service Building, Occidental Square, Dayton

CALL: 246-6138

Featured art

Watercolors

• "The Pine Nut Mountains from Dayton Valley," 2005

• "Cloister, Mission San Juan Capistrano," 2006

• "Autumn Leaves," 1999

• "Silver Lake," 1999

Graphite pencil drawings

• "Free Ride," a bronc and rider, 1997

• "Old Number 22" of the Inyo steam engine of the V&T and wood car, 2000

• "Hawaiian Hula Girl," 1997

• "Hawaiian Nene Goose," 1996

• "Early Hawaiian Musical Instruments," 1996

• "Poi Pounders" 1996

• "Ti Leaf-Wrapped Rock," 1996

Colored-pencil drawings

• "Eagle," 1998

• "Ohelo Berries," 1996

• "Hibiscus," 1996

• "Plumerias,"1996

• "Torch Ginger," 1996

Ink drawings

• "6th Hole of the Dayton Valley Golf Course," 2004

• "KoKee House, Kauai," 1998

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