Several new exhibits are on display at the Nevada Museum of Art, ranging from a modern-day work that encourages viewers to reflect on today's news media and reporting to black-and-white photos taken in Reno in the 1950s, including a picture of Marilyn Monroe.
Fortunately, it's easy to visit all of these exhibits at the Museum in one fell swoop, but important to spend the needed time in each gallery to gain a better understanding of the artists' reach and the potential impact of their work. Four of these new exhibits now on display include:
The Beautification Machine by Andy Diaz Hope and Jon Bernson is located in the media gallery room on the second floor, and plays a live feed from FOX News or MSNBC while casting audio sound and visual images around the room in bits and pieces.
The 'machine' is now part of Museum's permanent collection, but was purchased from Art Basel in Miami. Other than an opening in San Francisco, its exhibition at the Museum is one of its first true showings.
"Really, this is kind of its coming out party," said Amanda Horn, director of communications for the Museum. "It's really kind of incredible and very timely for us being in campaign season."
Andy Diaz Hope was the audio artist for the piece and Jon Bernson created the actual work of art, comprised at its core of reflective mirrors and small crystal balls. Several benches are placed around the 'machine,' giving visitors the chance to sit still and take in the news feeds from another perspective, possibly even allowing them to see an issue or a political figure in a new light, noted Horn.
"The intention is to make you disassociate from the partisanship and the other kinds of vitriol that comes out of traditional news and create a neutral ground for you to process those images and that sound in a totally abstractive environment, so that it almost becomes meditative or contemplative," Horn said.
The Beautification Machine will be on display through July 24.
The E.L Wiegand Collection Representing the Work Ethic in American Art is on display through April 17 and features different manifestations of the American work ethic in the 20th century. Pieces range from Moses Soyer's "Alone in the Studio" to Dunbar Dyson Beck's "Shadow Boxing, The Fighter Builds Skill" and Anna Mary Robertson Moses, aka "Grandma Moses'", "Watering the Horses." The exhibit pulls pieces from the Museum's permanent collection, of which there are about 2,500 pieces. According to Horn, smaller exhibitions, like this one, allow some of these permanent collection works to be shared and seen.
"These pieces are not always on view," she said. "It's good for people to see what we have in storage."
She pointed out that the work of Grandma Moses is particularly intriguing, because that artist did not begin her career until she was in her 70s and had no formal training. She also raised 10 children.
As a side note, interpretations for some of the artwork descriptions in this exhibition are available in Spanish. Just look at the bottom of the placard for a phone number to call to listen to a Spanish-spoken translation.
Daniel Douke's "Extraordinary" is a recreation of all things mundane and ordinary, ranging from a concrete barricade with skid marks to an iMac box. The exception is that these pieces are recreated with paint on canvas and so real-life that they truly are both disconcerting and amazing all at once.
Looking at the open backs of the canvas artworks gives viewers the reassurance that these are true works of art and not just the objects brought in and put on display themselves.
"The first thing people want to do is touch [his works of art] and they can't," said JoAnne Northrup, director of contemporary art initiatives at the Museum. "It's almost overwhelming."
Douke's acrylic-on-canvas works are hyper-realist and a critique on contemporary society and the strong demand and desire for consumer products, according to Horn. His work also is very meticulous, down to painting specks on dust on the outside of a re-created iMac box. Although there are many historical precedences for his work, these do not need to be known to appreciate Douke's work, according to Northrup.
"He's kind of one of those people who is holed away in his studio working like a fiend making everything perfect," she said. "He's a perfectionist and he does everything by himself."
Douke, in his early 70s, leaves the back of his works open so that people realize that the objects are truly paintings on stretched canvas.
"He's not wanting to fool the eye," said Northrup. "Otherwise, he wouldn't do that. It's like an extraordinary technique and he wants you to be awe-stricken. He's not really painting a picture. He's almost duplicating the look of a thing that's in real-life."
This is not an exhibit that can be appreciated by just looking at photos of his work online, said Horn. Instead, his works need to be seen in person. The Douke exhibit runs through April 24.
Don Dondero: A Photographic Legacy is on display on the first floor of the Museum and features 20 black-and-white photographs dating to the 1950s in Reno. This incudes "Don Manoukian Wrestling" in 1958 and a "Fur Coat Giveaway" at The Holiday Casino, also taken in 1958.
"Dondero was a Reno photographer for more than 50 years, and one of Reno's most celebrated and accomplished publicity photographers," said Horn. "He supplied many of these photographs to regional and San Francisco Bay newspapers. He was Northern Nevada's primary AP photographer and so these are from a very noticeable area from that old Reno."
The photographs are being showcased as a nod to the Museum's Sky Room, which is set to open to the public on March 5. The Sky Room is to be a modern-day version of the Sky Room that once sat atop the now-gone Mapes Hotel in downtown Reno, and will be open year-round to host events ranging from private parties to weddings and more.
"Definitely when people come in, they should take time to look at these [images]," said Horn. "I mean, they are pretty cool. They have really famous people—JFK, Lena Horn, Marilyn Monroe."
The photographs are on loan from Dondero's daughter, Debbie Dondero, and will be on display through July 10.