University’s Knowledge Center opens Post-War Bohemians exhibit

Shows work of local artists who experimented with art styles and lifestyles out of Nevada’s mainstream

7/6/2011 - By: Claudene Wharton
Photography by Gus Bundy – Reno’s Valerie Gallery, November 1952. Photography by Gus Bundy – Reno’s Valerie Gallery, November 1952.

While many Nevadans were settling into cozy, traditional “apple-pie” American lifestyles after World War II, a tight-knit group of artists were doing their own thing, producing colorful, nontraditional art and living lifestyles that matched. For the first time, the work of this talented group will be displayed together, at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, July 1 – Sept. 16.

The exhibit, “Post-War Bohemians in Northern Nevada,” contains the work of 16 of these artists who often gathered in Virginia City, as well as took classes and encouraged one another at the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

“The art community was a small community, everyone knew everyone, and it wasn’t about being competitive, but more about companionship amongst artists,” explained Tina Nappe, daughter of Gus Bundy, one of the featured artists who was a prolific photographer, as well as an accomplished painter and sculptor.

Nappe and four other children of the featured artists will comprise a panel discussion at a reception free and open to the public 4 – 6:30 p.m., July 9 in the Rotunda on the main floor of the Knowledge Center. Other panelists include Lisa Graeber, David Stix, Peter Kraemer and Larry Tanner. They will share memories from their childhoods, reflecting upon what it was like to grow up with these creative nonconformists.

“Mother was always a painter,” Graeber, daughter of painter and sculptor Adine Stix, recalled. “But the time she dedicated to create art increased after The Misfits was filmed at our home.”

Stix was originally from the East Coast, but by 1950, she had settled at Quail Canyon Ranch, a few miles from Pyramid Lake, with a Nevada cowboy husband. She ended up raising two children on her own and managing the ranch, turning it over to be used in the filming of The Misfits, starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and other top stars, in 1960.

“Our house was torn apart for the film,” Graeber explained, “and part of the agreement was that when they rebuilt it, they would include a large art studio for my mother. There was never much room in our house to produce art before the studio was built. It was a small home, with no electricity or telephone. It’s amazing to think she produced such large-scale art with no electricity.”

At the July 9 reception, there will also be guided tours around the building, where viewers can see and hear more about Stix’ art, as well as the art of the 15 other featured Post-War Bohemians. Besides Stix and Bundy, the other featured artists include Zoray Andrus, Betty Bliss, Nancy Bowers, Robert Cole Caples, Ben Cunningham, Joanne de Longchamps, Robert Hartman, Ruth Hilts, Craig Sheppard, Yolande Sheppard, Louis Siegriest, Marge Tanner, Richard Guy Walton and Ed Yates.

A short video, What is Modern Art?, which humorously explains the artistic period leading into the post-war era, will also be shown at the reception. University Art Professor Jim McCormick and Christopher Schwartz, an accomplished student intern, have also compiled a 44-page booklet about the northern Nevada’s Post-War Bohemians. It is the first time that the artists have been featured together in one publication. The book will be available free at the reception and exhibit, which McCormick and Schwartz co-curated.

Besides during the July 9 reception, most of the exhibit can be viewed through Sept. 16 whenever the Knowledge Center is open: Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and 1 – 5 p.m. on the weekend. Some select pieces are available for viewing only in the Special Collections Department on the Third Floor, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The exhibit is part of Reno’s Artown celebration of the arts. It was made possible in part by contributions from Molly Bundy Toral, Gene Wait and Jim McCormick. For more information, contact the University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections Department at (775) 682-5665 or specoll@unr.edu.


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