a little love letter to Reno

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Where to begin…this spring has flown by and June is moving in the same manner it seems. The opening for my solo show, A Tender Spark, was a success- more than I ever imagined it would be. It really was a dream to see so many people come out to support me and my art. Before I get into the details of the work, the show, and the opening, I’m very pleased to announce that the show has been extended until Wednesday July 1st 2015 so there is still time to see it all in person if you haven’t already. The Holland Project gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 3-6pm or you can give them a call to make an appointment outside of those hours by contacting Alisha alisha@hollandreno.org

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I admit that this show is/was a really big deal for me both professionally and personally. I’ve never had a solo show this large before and it was truly years in the making of it. I stopped painting and illustrating for about 10 years so if you told me back in 2002 that I would be living in Reno, NV as a working artist with my own solo show- I would never have believed you! Back then my art studio was my kitchen and it was really small….really really really small. To make a very long and complicated story short, my life was kind of a mess back then and because of lack of support and frustration I quit painting. I’ll have to elaborate on all that one day but trust me when I say- this show, this moment, this group of work that I made is a big deal for me.

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This spring was also an unexpected challenge for myself and my family. It absolutely impacted my work in many ways and my heart was just broken on repeat. I listened to Sufjan Steven’s newest album Carrie & Lowell obsessively- maybe because I was dealing with death and loss, it was sort of comforting to paint to it and just lose myself in the work.

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When the show opened on June 11th and so many people came out to see what I painted- I can’t even describe how surreal and amazing that felt. Reno is a pretty great place to be an artist and I felt incredible support from so many people. I’m not saying our art scene is perfect or couldn’t improve in some ways, but I love that in general, most people want to see others thrive here and the community feels genuine. There are so many extraordinary artists here and it’s growing really fast. There is a lot of work being done on several levels to make Reno a vibrant and thriving art city- everyone seems to be “pulling on the same rope” as my friend Tod would say.

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I was overwhelmed by all of it and I had to give a talk which I was more nervous about that than anything else I’ve given a public talk about because this was so much more meaningful and personal to me. Even more intimidating than the time I gave a talk to hundreds of computer programers about graphic design. Here I’ve spent so. many. isolated. hours. painting. struggling. painting. painting. drawing. painting. And suddenly my paintings are on the walls and people are excited to see them in person and talk to me- it’s crazy and awesome. I always feel a little socially awkward after working so long in the studio but I was so overwhelmed and incredibly happy!

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Setting up the show was an amazing experience and I could not have done it all without the incredible Alisha Funkhouser- she made the whole process go smoothly and was so encouraging and supportive right from the beginning. Thanks to Patrick, Denali, and Meghan for the hanging help too- it was a lot of work that went fast with all of you. Thanks to Archer for helping me with some finishing touches and being such a good help to me. The Holland Project is a special place and they are essential to the Reno community; what they do here is so important and that is personal too.

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Many of my paintings are off to lovely new homes with such wonderful people. I can’t thank those of you who purchased work enough- whether it is a print or an original painting, this is what enables me to keep making new work and pay the bills so thank you. I know these words aren’t even really adequate enough to express how grateful I am to you all and how lucky I feel that I can do this.

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Tony Lillios, a friend and a collector of mine, purchased “Is that you?” above. Tony has been supporting my art for some time now and I’m always happy to see what he thinks of my new work.

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Even the mayor came to see my show and she bought the painting, buffalo + cetus for her sister, Amanda Sanchez. She let me know she might stop by and I’m so glad she did; it was very exciting to see her enjoy my work and to talk to her about Reno, art, and many other things.

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So much happened the night of my opening that I never got a photo of just me with one of my paintings so here is one Alisha took of me when I stopped by later.

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Now that things have slowed down a bit- I’ve been reflecting on the show and the work I made and thinking about what I need to make next. I have some paintings that are dying to be painted and I’m pretty much the worst at relaxing so I need to really take some time and force myself to rest before I jump onto my next thing. I’ll be participating in ArtBlast in September and I have another solo show here in Reno in October (it may be my last for a while as I have some other plans in the works) and I’ll be in a group show down in LA that month but for right now I’m just trying to enjoy this feeling. I kind of need to soak it in and maybe process what the heck happened this spring and stay in this state of bliss for a little while.

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Supporting artists comes in so many forms- whether it’s attending a show, buying a painting or a print or some other item that artist created, or sending an encouraging word and simply enjoying their work- all of it helps more than you know. All of it keeps me going and though it can be hard at times to be a working artist- the hustle and constant pushing can be exhausting- it is a very very lucky life. I know how lucky I am. Thank you everyone.

And of course, I couldn’t end this without thanking my spectacular little family- thank you to Will and to Archer. I sure could not do any of this without the both of you, your love, and encouragement. <3

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4 Responses to “a little love letter to Reno”

  1. Vanessa Vancour

    We are all so grateful you started painting again.
    Sufjan has also entered my life at pivotal moments.
    What a beautiful post. Congrats on your success and joys after all of your hard work! Reno is so lucky to have you.

    • lisakurt

      Thank you so much Vanessa! I feel lucky to live in Reno- even when I first moved here I thought it was a great place to be an artist- even when I thought I wasn’t one. Sufjan is like my musical muse- he helps me paint, draw, and heal at the same time. It’s remarkable. 🙂

  2. Jess Weems

    Such beautiful work and words! Glad it is still up!!

    • lisakurt

      Thank you Jess! I’m glad you got to see it with your class! 🙂

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