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Wally’s World is a vacation of serious art

John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com

Wally’s world works. Wally Cuchine has built a world of art and whimsy.

The art part works for him, for art lovers across Nevada, and lately for Carson City residents checking out a Wally’s World exhibit under way at the OXS Gallery of the Nevada Arts Council, 716 N. Carson St., Ste. A. The exhibition, on the second floor there, is showing 35 pieces of Nevada art from Cuchine’s collection of more than 2,000 through Friday. The exhibit began here in late July.

Cuchine said the touring exhibit returns to the region at St. Mary’s Gallery & Retreat in Virginia City next May after returning to his community of Eureka, as well as showing in Fallon and Winnemucca.

At a packed Carson City reception for patrons Monday night and at a breakfast Tuesday with a few admirers, Cuchine relished talking about the artists and friends represented in his collection. Among those, and credited with helping along the way in his years of collecting, was Jim McCormick, professor emeritus and former dean with the art department at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“Jim was instrumental in making my collection a fine arts collection,” said Cuchine, who was Eureka County facilities director and in charge of Eureka Opera House programming until retirement in 2011.

Cuchine said he has 70 or more McCormick works in his collection. The traveling exhibit at the OXS Gallery includes one of them, an etching of a train entitled “Ol 81.” McCormick, a friend since 1982, wrote the show’s gallery notes.

Also in the exhibition, officially called “Wally’s World: The Loneliest Art Collection in Nevada,” is one of Cuchine’s eight works done by Jeff Nicholson of the Great Basin Art Gallery & Frame shop in Carson City. It’s a watercolor painting called “Peering into the past, Eureka, Nevada.” It’s front and center along with other works as you enter the council and OXS Gallery. Cuchine said he often has had framing done at Great Basin.

Nicholson and other area artists are well represented in the exhibit. Included is one of Cuchine’s 30 works by Jean LeGassick, an oil called “Fall in the Snake Range.” A couple of others are small, crafted pieces by Larry Williamson, sculptor, which is called “Wavoka” and fashioned from wood and bone, as well as Mimi Patrick’s “Box Boy,” which is labeled wood, bone, stone, shell and sea creature. Patrick is a Gold Hill ceramicist-sculptor.

Among his many works, Cuchine also owns four by Carson City’s Carol Brown and one from Sharon Rosse, Carson City Arts Initative (CCAI) director. Rosse and Glenn Clemmer, a CCAI board member, were at Tuesday’s breakfast.

“The collection needs to stay together,” said Rosse. The trio discussed Cuchine’s work toward achieving that with an Eastern Nevada group. Clemmer asked about the composition of Cuchine’s collection and exhibit, and was told much comes from Northern Nevada artists, though the south wasn’t ignored. Cuchine also said the traveling exhibit was chosen to reflect and represent the overall collection.

As for the whimsy part of Wally’s world, which also works for Cuchine, he said he has built a wall and sculptures from throwaway junk, stuff discovered along a dirt road he walks regularly outside Eureka. He said it’s referred to as the Great Wall of Eureka. There also is St. Walter’s Altar, a nod to what he calls, with the capital letters resonating in his voice, the Goddess of Found Objects.