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Geographical Divides: Finding Common Ground

 

Geographical Divides: Finding Common Ground examines Nevada unique visual culture. It is a state labeled with cultural myths like “Area 51,” “The Biggest Little City in the World” and “Sin City” and one that commands the imagination of Postmodernism from the architecture of Las Vegas to the proliferation of Burning Man Festival held once a year. It is comprised of two major metropolitan communities— in the north and south— divided by 300 miles of vast desert. Nevada’s art communities are not separated by distance of travel alone. There are notable differences among artists throughout the state in what is important in their work, most of which connects with where they live. This traversal of Nevada has also led to the realization of how little dialogue there is between artists of the two dominant communities—Reno and Las Vegas—not to mention the artists living in remote territories of the Nevada outback that are sometimes overlooked.  Nevada artists live on different sides of a geographical divide, however those lines are drawn.

Calling upon the printmaker’s sense of community, the sixteen artists featured in Geographical Divides: Finding Common Ground were invited to join in a series of collaborations that would explore these geographical and cultural differences in Nevada, if such differences truly exist. The assembly of printmakers—eight from the north, eight from the south—produced two prints from each collaboration. Each artist produced an initial plate that was sent to their collaborating partner for further surface and conceptual additions, and then returned for completion. Visually exploring connections and disconnections between southern Nevada and northern Nevada cultural attitudes, aesthetics and geographical distinctions—these sixteen artists communicated and visually responded to each other’s unique economic, environmental, political and social settings—further dissecting this notion of a splitting geography and/or communion of Nevada’s polarities.

Collaborating artists include: Maria Arango, Las Vegas/Lynn Schmidt, Reno; Erik Beehn, Las Vegas/Nolan Preece, Reno; Bobbie Ann Howell, Las Vegas/Galen Brown, Carson City; Daryl DePry, Las Vegas/Sharon Tetly, Carson City; Keith Conley, LasVegas/Sidne Teske, Tuscarora; Anne M. Hoff, Las Vegas/Vicki LoSasso, Reno; Jeanne Voltura, Las Vegas/Candace Nicol, Reno; and Juan D. Varela, Las Vegas/Ashlea Clark, Reno.

CURATED BY
Anne M. Hoff, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, & Candace Nicol, Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno

This exhibition is on display through January 30, 2023. 

Nevada History

PERMANENT GALLERY – NEVADA HISTORY
Nevada: Prisms & Perspectives, the latest version of the Nevada Historical Society’s Wilbur S. Shepperson Nevada Gallery. All of the interpretation and collections—artifacts, photographs, and maps—come from the Nevada Historical Society. Nevada: Prisms & Perspectives utilizes the Historical Society’s collections to tell five crucial stories about life in the Silver State. Each story is complete in itself, but all five are intimately related to each other.

Datsolalee basket

Living on the Land
Although the eastern Sierra Nevada, the Great Basin, and the Sonoran Desert of southern Nevada appears to be a hard place in which to survive, people have been taking their living from the land here for more than 10,000 years. Native Nevadans learned to live easily on the land, taking only what they needed.

Riches from the Earth
The Great Basin has been the source of fabulous mineral wealth for hundreds of years. Native Nevadans for centuries mined salt and turquoise. More recently, prospectors heading back east from the first wave of the California Gold Rush found traces of the yellow metal in streams on the eastern slope of the Sierra. The real excitement began in 1859, however, with the "Rush to Washoe," as thousands of former 49ers headed to the booming Comstock Lode camps of Virginia City, Gold Hill, and Silver City.

Passing Through
For decades, people have been passing through what is now known as Nevada on their way to somewhere else. In fact, Interstate 80, just about a mile south

Miner's bathtub from Candelaria, 1870s

of here, is the latest version of U.S. 40, which was the Victory Highway, which was built along the route of the Central Pacific Railroad, which was along the path of the old wagon road the Donner Party took to get to California, which was also the route into the Sierra Nevada that took John C. Frémont and his party to Lake Tahoe, which was the path the Washoe used to move into the mountains for the summer season. Located east of Reno and the Forty-Mile Desert this modern superhighway follows the old Humboldt River route that brought so many pioneers to the Far West.

Neon Nights
Everyone knows the truth about Nevada. It is a land of enchantment offering fun, food, and instant wealth. The Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight in 1897 brought notoriety to the Silver State. Then speedy divorce—"Renovation"—as well as quickie marriages, kept the state’s racy reputation alive. Gambling was made legal in 1931 in order to support tourism and business in the face of the Great Depression.

The Federal Presence
Although Nevada is the seventh largest state in the Union, the federal government owns 87 percent of the land. That simple fact has made the federal presence central to the development of the Silver State in the twentieth century.

Reno History

PERMANENT GALLERY – RENO HISTORY
Reno History Gallery – The Biggest Little City in the World is the latest version of the Nevada Historical Society’s Janice Pine Reno History Gallery. All of the interpretation and collections—artifacts, photographs, and print ephemera—come from the Nevada Historical Society. The Reno History Gallery utilizes the Historical Society’s collections to highlight five themes about how Reno became the Biggest Little City in the World.

Tough Little Town on the Truckee
When the first white men passed through this area in the 1840s, the land along the Truckee River was inhabited by Washoe and Paiute peoples. In the late 1840s and 1850s, thousands of travelers on their way to the California gold fields would linger a few days in the Truckee Meadows to allow their animals to feed on the native grasses before crossing the Sierra Nevada. The meadows, fed by the river, offered an oasis, but to travelers the river was also an obstacle.

Reno Noir: 20th Century Sin City

Johnson's Training Camp, July 1910

A mining boom that commenced in southwestern Nevada in 1900 gave the state an economic shot in the arm. Reno benefited from the new boom, both economically and through the arrival of George Wingfield, a millionaire who had made his fortune in Goldfield. From Reno, the powerful Wingfield ran and expanded his empire, which included such diversified endeavors as mining, banking, ranching, hotels, and politics. The coming of the twentieth century also began to change the spirit of the town, which then had a population of about 4,000. In 1903, Reno became an incorporated city (after an earlier unsuccessful attempt in 1897).

On the Road Again: Travel and Tourism in the Biggest Little City
From the beginning, transportation has been a significant theme in the history of Reno and the Truckee Meadows. The emigrant trails, stage roads, the Pony Express, highways, commercial aviation, and the railroad have all served to bring people and goods into and through the region. The transcontinental railroad, built through the area in 1868, represented the most important event in the sometimes sputtering creation of Reno. (In 1903, Reno’s neighbor to the east, Sparks, also began life as a railroad town – a new division point on the Southern Pacific Railroad.)

Everyday Reno: People, Places, and Things
Against the backdrop of its "sin city" reputation and an economy that relies on the tourist trade, there is – and always has been – an everyday Reno, a place where ordinary people live and work, go to school, worship, play, and socialize. This side of the Biggest Little City is represented through its homes, businesses, schools, and churches, its social organizations, government, local events, arts and culture, and, of course, its people.

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