Volunteers In Art

Nevada Museum of Art
Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts: E. L. Wiegand Gallery

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Docent’s Choice

The Captivation of Callahan’s Photography

They are modest and stark and utterly charming, the essence of minimal. They are the delightful photos by Harry Callahan now exhibited in the corridor before the entrance to the Museum offices. And they are not to be overlooked.

A private collector has allowed us to display them for the remainder of the summer, plenty of time for you to pay them several visits. And docents who find themselves with tour groups on the second floor must absolutely bring their guests so see them and to compare them with another collection of high-contrast photos, those of Ansel Adams on display in the Feature Gallery East on the third floor.

landscapeHarry Callahan, photographer 1912-1999

It so happens that Adams may have been the inspiration for Callahan to turn his hobby into a lifelong career, ultimately earning distinguished appointments teaching photography at prestigious schools of art.

Callahan was a Detroit native, born in 1912 and schooled in engineering at Michigan State University. After college, General Motors employed him as a photo technician and in 1938 he began to teach himself the art of photography. He enjoyed the satisfaction of wandering the streets of Detroit snapping subjects that caught his eye and sharing his images with fellow amateurs at his camera club. And it is there that he met Ansel Adams who gave a workshop for the members, an event that may have urged him to try the technical experiments and innovations then gaining favor among photographers.

In 1946 Callahan's work came to the attention of Lazlo Moholy-Nagy who invited him to teach photography at the Institute of Design in Chicago, a career move that exposed him to cutting edge European ideas and the novel concepts of the Bauhaus.

Thoroughly versed in the technical aspects of his craft, the Chicago appointment allowed him time to develop his own style and interests, wandering the city in the early mornings and making proof prints in the afternoons. By 1948 his work began appearing in numerous exhibits curated by his friend, Edward Steichen, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His output was small, sometimes no more than six finished images a year. But his fame was growing, leading, in 1961, to an invitation to head the photography department at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he remained until his retirement in 1977.

His work is seen by critics as intensely expressionist. In "Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art," John Szarkowski says, "Harry Callahan's work...draws us ever more insistently inward toward the center of Callahan's private sensibility. This sensibility is expressed in his perception of subject matter that is remarkably personal and restricted in its range."

That he was expert at envisioning the extraordinary in the ordinary is clear in the silhouette of a desiccated weed, perhaps a Queen Anne's Lace, on display in the collection shown here. So simple, so lovely, a tiny image that somehow speaks to the desolation of the American prairie in winter.

Or consider his studies of the forms of tattered handbills and show bills. Callahan has transformed these unsightly shreds and scabs peeling from blank city walls into something worthy of attention. And by what magic did he change the mere lineal forms of telephone wires against a white sky into a stark geometry as compelling as any Mondrian.

There are only 11 images on view and they are shown in plain white mats and frames of black or white. But allow plenty of time for your visit. This is one of those shows that will make you look again and again and again.

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News & Updates

ART + ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE Begins September 29th through October 1st. Be sure to register early or contact Rosalind for a volunteer’s view of this event.

Second Saturdays are Free. Thanks to the Nightingale Family Foundation, admission to the Museum is FREE every second Saturday throughout 2011.

First Thursday Enjoy a cool beverage 5 to 7 PM while listening to the Whitney Myer Band, August 4th and Max Yasgur’s Band, September 1st. Free valet parking for your bike, courtesy of Reno Bike Project. Admission $10/ Members FREE

Talk and Tasting: Tom Young, Jazz Aldrich, Ancient Egyptian Homebrew and Dr. Church’s Living Room Lager Enjoy an original brew and learn the process of recreating an authentic Egyptian beer in honor of Museum founder, James E. Church. Thursday, August 11th, 6 - 7 PM. $12/ $8 Members. Fee includes one beer, additional beer available for purchase.

Wander through the wilderness one last time. Don’t miss the imagery of Ansel Adams Distance and Detail. Exhibit ends August 14th.

Sunday Jazz Brunch 11 AM to 1 PM, welcomes Dickie Mills Group, Sunday, August 21st. On September 18th, enjoy the music of the Jackie Landrum Trio. Admission is FREE. A la carte brunch menu provided by Café Musée. Brunch menu $5-$15.

Join local bands, Very Pretty Pigeon and Memory Motel rooftop for an Indie Rock Night Thursday, August 18th. 6 - 7:30 PM. Admission is $3.

A Special Exhibition Art, Science and the Arc of Inquiry The Evolution of the Nevada Museum of Art, comprised of archival materials, including photographs, newspaper articles and artworks, from the Museum’s Collection and the University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections. August 27th-29th. FREE with admission fee.

Art Break Bring a friend and peek “behind the scenes” with fellow Museum volunteers Thursday, September 8th. Lecture begins at 5 PM followed by Museum tour.

The Altered Landscape: Photographs of a Changing Environment opens Saturday, September 24th commemorating the Museum’s 80th anniversary of the institution’s signature photography collection examining human interaction and intervention with the environment.

Museum Hours

Wednesday – Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM
Thursdays 10 AM to 8 PM
Closed Monday, Tuesday and National Holidays

Wednesday – Sunday 11 AM to 2 PM
1st Thursday 5 to 7 PM

Wednesday – Sunday 11 AM – 4:30 PM
Closed Monday & Tuesday

Tuesday – Friday 9AM - 5PM

Volunteers Needed

Are you interested in serving on the volunteer board? Have you always wanted to explore being a docent? We are currently looking for help in these areas as well as the Annual Arts and Flowers Luncheon, support for planning volunteer recognition events and administration work. For more information, please contact Rosalind Bedell at rosalind.bedell@nevadaart.org.

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