Arts & Culture » Culture

Sierra Nevada, mon amour

by Roberto Friedman

"Bloom," by Ken Goldberg, Sanjay Krishnan, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, seen at Reno's Nevada Museum of Art, changes to reflect real-time seismic activity in the Bay Area. Photo: Rick Gerharter
"Bloom," by Ken Goldberg, Sanjay Krishnan, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, seen at Reno's Nevada Museum of Art, changes to reflect real-time seismic activity in the Bay Area. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

The atmosphere over the Sierra Nevada was brown and smoky last month, a result of the many horrific wildfires raging all over the region. It felt apocalyptic and thus very much of the historical moment. But Out There was visiting Reno for much more festive purposes.

Why were we there? Our pal the photographer Rick Gerharter was attending an important auction of Western art, and we went along for the ride. Why were we there? It was time for the Northern Nevada Pride Festival (shhh: it's gay!). Why were we there? Checking up on the latest shows at the Nevada Museum of Art.

The Pride Festival continues to grow in the years we've been visiting, and The Reno Gazette Journal reported that this year's event may well have been the biggest one since the festival began five years ago, according to the event organizers.

"On Saturday, thousands packed Wingfield Park in downtown Reno. Many were wrapped in rainbow-colored flags. Brian Jensen, festival director for Northern Nevada Pride, said more than 10,000 people attended the festival last year. The organization receives an estimated attendance count from the City of Reno several weeks after the event is over. Still, Jensen said he expects an estimated 12,000 to 14,000 people attended the festivities.

"'I feel like we're having a lot bigger attendance here this year than we've ever had before,' he said, adding the crowds watching the parade were about four or five people deep on each sidewalk. The festival featured live music, food trucks and more than 120 vendors."

OT was exhilarated watching the parade march down Virginia St. to the festival grounds. It takes more courage and determination to come out for a gay parade in a small city like Reno. There were no steel barriers, so parade participants and their supporters on the sidelines could freely interact. It felt a lot like small-town America had come home to its values of freedom and inclusion. So long overdue.

The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno offers a robust program of exhibitions. Presently you can see "Manet to Maya Lin," a survey of artworks drawn from NMA collections and private loans including paintings by Édouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (through Sept. 2). New York artist Simon Dinnerstein's "The Fulbright Triptych" makes its West Coast debut in the traveling exhibition "The Lasting World: Simon Dinnerstein and The Fulbright Triptych." The exhibit explores Dinnerstein's creative arc from early, hyperrealist works to introspective and fantastical later works. The show's centerpiece is "The Fulbright Triptych," a monumental three-part work measuring 14-feet across and full of narrative detail (through Jan. 6, 2019).

But our favorite piece in our traversal of the museum this year was "Bloom," in which colorful abstract shapes are triggered by a continuous feed of online information about Bay Area seismic activity. It felt like a postcard from back home. The artists' identification is in the caption.

Yes, for years OT has disappeared up the crack of the mountain passes over the Sierra Nevada, only to reappear beyond the state line. On a map you can see how Nevada is forever spooned by California, the Silver State nestled in the haunches of our big coastal giant like a joey in his kangaroo pouch. We go from state to state every year.

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