Artist’s inspiration comes from everyday objects |

Artist’s inspiration comes from everyday objects

Karel Ancona-Henry
For the Nevada Appeal
Photos courtesy of Capital City Arts Initiative

Small totems of everyday life make up the portraits of “Work Bench Project,” an exhibit by longtime Nevada artist Jim McCormick.

The community is invited to attend the opening reception from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the Courthouse Gallery, 885 E. Musser St., Carson City.

The show is presented by the Capital City Arts Initiative. McCormick is a retired professor emeritus from the University of Nevada, Reno, where he taught from 1960 to 1992.

“Jim did this new work in conjunction with the staff at the courthouse,” said Sharon Ross, executive director and co-founder of CCAI. “When (CCAI) initially approached him about doing a show, we felt it would be a retrospective of his work.”

McCormick would have none of that, proposing instead that members of the staff – judges, clerks, guards – each donate six items to be used in portraits made of assembled items.

“Jim asked for those items that we all have – things that are sitting around or in the back of the desk drawer that there may be attachment to, that you don’t really want to get rid of but don’t use, either,” Ross said. “He then created assemblage from what they gave him.”

“Work Bench Project is something of an experimental collaboration,” McCormick said in a press release issued by CCAI. “To create a series of portraits, I invited the courthouse staff … to contribute a handful of meaningful objects. From these come the artwork.

“I hope they capture the spirit of each individual.”

While hanging the show earlier this week, one employee saw her “portrait” and said that it was “the opportunity to see someone else’s response to your life,” Ross said.

The title for the show derives from a judge ruling from the bench.

“Jim was a bit intrigued with the idea of a gallery in a courthouse and wanted to explore that,” Ross said. “The idea spun itself from there.”

McCormick received the Nevada Governor’s Arts Award in 1992. He has also presented many local and national art exhibitions, and directed the Nevada Art Research Project at the Nevada Historical Society, working to preserve the history of Nevada-related artists from the mid-19th century to present.

A catalog essay by art historian Marcia Growdon, former chief curator and director of the Nevada Museum of Art, is available online and in the gallery. Special workshops and programs will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition, which continues through May 7.

The CCAI Courthouse Gallery is open 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The reception and gallery are free and open to the public.

WHAT: Artist’s reception for Jim McCormick’s “Work Bench Project” exhibit

WHEN: 5-7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: CIAA Courthouse Gallery, E. Musser St., Carson City