Vast beauty of Nevada summed up in exhibits

Where did the summer go? Sure it's still warm and our yards and sidewalks are shaded by the leaves and branches of still-green trees. But how could today be the first day of school? No matter where you're from, the first day of school triggers memories of sweet summer's end and the urge to make the most of each day.

In that spirit, I caught the last hour of the last day of the Sagebrush Ocean photography exhibit at the Nevada State Museum on Sunday. Photographer, writer and naturalist Stephen Trimble captured the ineffable Great Basin in the photographs displayed, which are part of his coffee table book of the same name, published in 1989.

The exhibit was efficient. No need to use costly fossil fuel to tour the vast Great Basin - from Utah to California, from Oregon and Idaho to southern Nevada - when its essence was here in Carson City. Trimble's evocative photographs take you there. You can hear the thunderstorm in the bristlecone forest, smell the clumps of sage on the open range, taste the pine nuts, and see billowing clouds captured in still water.

Trimble knew where to go to find the hidden and revealed gems of biodiversity in the vast Great Basin. He found the nesting nighthawk in the shadow of Wheeler Peak, the erupting geysers at Pyramid Lake, the single scarlet leaf on the moist tawny pine needles near Mount Moriah.

But like summer vacation, that exhibit is gone.

What remains until Sept. 24 is another vision of rural Nevada through the eyes of Wally Cuchine, rural art collector and humanist.

"Wally's World: The Loneliest Art Collection in Nevada" is an exhibit of 65 paintings and sculptures from the collection of Wally Cuchine, resident of Eureka on Nevada's Loneliest Highway 50, and collector of contemporary Nevada art.

The exhibit at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno (next to the Planetarium) is a rural Nevada journey through the eyes of Nevada's contemporary artists. Eureka's (only) impressionist painter Gary Link presents Whistler Peak in March, bitterbrush, sage and snow in the pale winter light. Consider the stark beauty of a ramshackle weathered wooden miner's shack in Eureka as painted by Larry Jacox and the elegant simplicity of Marilyn Melton's Virginia City Churches framing a verdant dappled view of Six Mile Canyon and the hills to the east.

Cool off with Tuscarora artist Ron Arthaud's painting of rounded sunlit rocks in a mountain stream. Gasp at the surrealistic ghostlike dust devil swirling up from the desert floor into Jack Malotte's iridescent and stormy sky.

The pieces in the exhibit are representative of his vast and still expanding collection of painting sculpture and folk art - at least 800 pieces and growing.

The Wally World exhibit is a view from and of rural Nevada. It's also a chance to look through the eyes of my friend Wally and see what he sees.

Wally is an art collector and more. As director of the county's historic Eureka Opera House, which hosts cultural events throughout the year and serves a local community center, he helps to foster art of all kinds in rural Nevada.

As Stephen Trimble's photographs reflect the biodiversity of the Great Basin's natural world, Wally's collection captures the diversity of Nevada's Great Basin and its artists.

In preparing for the show, Wally explained to photographer Steve Davis that he loves rural Nevada for its vastness and its openness.

"The difference between rural anyplace else and Nevada ... is that when you leave Eureka, there is nobody between there and Austin or there and Ely. It's out there, it's totally open, and it's mine."

The Wally World exhibit runs through Sept. 24 at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno. Call 775) 688-1190 for hours.

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nevada. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment