Genoa artist subject of retrospective
When Nevada’s 15th governor, Fred Balzar, had his official portrait painted by famous German artist Hans Meyer-Kassel, he probably never envisioned the work would ever need to be duplicated.
Workers recently took down the portrait of the father of legalized gaming for a Meyer-Kassel retrospective at the Nevada Museum of Art that opens on Saturday.
The painting was replaced with a duplicate, according to Museum Director of Communications Amanda Horn
Meyer-Kassel painted portraits of four Nevada governors and five California governors during his time in Nevada.
A famous painter before he came to the United States, Meyer-Kassel was dubbed professor by Kaiser Wilhelm after painting a portrait of the ruler’s niece, according to his obituary published in The Record-Courier.
Horn said Meyer-Kassel was a prolific artist, who worked up until the time of his death on Aug. 29, 1952, in Genoa after moving there in 1945.
He would donate paintings to serve as a door prize at Candy Dance, long before there was a craft fair.
“Bill Brooks and Jack Bacon have worked really closely together to bring this retrospective to the Nevada Museum of Art along with our curator, Ann Wolfe,” Horn said. “This has been a labor of love for several years.”
Many of Meyer-Kassel’s paintings are in private hands, which made the retrospective that much more of a challenge.
“Many of these works have been living in private collections for several years, behind closed doors,” she said. “Jack went on a search to find all these paintings so it is a true retrospective.”
Bacon published the 204-page book, which contains 100 full-color plates. Copies became available for $40 last week.
“His efforts resulted in the exhibition, and the incredible book,” Horn said. “This is an exciting time to bring all this history together in one place.”
She said Meyer-Kassel was revered in his native Germany, but found it difficult to make a living after the end of the war.
He fell in love with the West when he went to exhibit in Pasadena.
“When he came out West for the first time, he totally fell in love,” she said. “Reno was a hip-hop happening place at that time, right? It still is, but in terms of cities in the West, it was a good place to come.”
Meyer-Kassel’s work appeared in national publications, and one of his paintings was made into a postage stamp to celebrate Genoa’s centennial.
On March 1, the Reno art museum will feature a members night where Bacon, Wolfe and Brooks will be signing copies of the book.
The museum is located at 160 W. Liberty St., Reno. For more information, visit http://www.nevadaart.org.
The copyright to a portrait of the Mason’s Hall in Genoa was donated to the town for use in the next Candy Dance poster by nephew and native Genoan Bill Brooks.
Brooks’ aunt was Maria Meyer-Kassel’s sister.
As part of the celebration, a monument to Meyer-Kassel will be dedicated on May 19 in front of the Genoa Courthouse Museum, where Brooks went to elementary school before it was closed and turned over to the Douglas County Historical Society.