Saturday, July 27, 2019

Pride Reno 2019

What could be better than a Pride reflection?
I've been to several Pride parades and all have been filled with color and joy. For some reason though, Reno's Pride seemed more joyous and more inclusive. All the boundaries were erased and I had little sense that this was a parade for a certain segment of people; that I was at "their" parade. 

There was a joyous feeling of inclusion ... gay, straight, trans, queer, old, young, brown, black, white, weird, weirder and totally boring (like myself). All in this little city that likes to bill itself as "quirky by choice."

I'm sure Reno has its struggles and hate, but today we were all basically human.

Here are just a few photos to give you a sense of the day ...

 One of the first people I met was Francisca Acks-Ramos. I stopped her for a picture because of her tiara. 


Turns out she is Ms. Elite Nevada from National Woman of Achievement for her work on body image disparity. She explained that it is a contest about passion rather than just beauty and said, "Whether we're a size 2 or a size 22, we all have body issues. I'm one of only two plus-sizes who have won a platform award."  I can see why she won, she has a smile that lit up Reno.

National Woman of Achievement's motto is: Acknowledging the Beauty in Service, Self-Development and Education Among Today’s Modern Woman.

My granddaughters recently enlightened me about the presence of "furries" among us, and I got to meet some today. Furries are people who are fans of animal characters with human characteristics and enjoy dressing up and engaging as their favorite animal characters. We have a group of them here in Northern Nevada. I'm told their conventions are a hoot.



Best of Awards (according to me)

The Sparkliest - and she made her own outfit.
  
Prettiest bike.

Best leg warmers (on a hot day!)
Best leggings
Best seat in the house
Most nimble photographer
Great signs:









And one clunker:



And two pics that made me sad:
For all of us who didn't get the hugs we wanted from our dads.
And, for all those lost for whatever reason.
 


Monday, July 22, 2019

Book Review: “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek”


Sometimes a book comes along that grabs you with a powerful story, makes you fall in love with the characters and place, and allows you to discover a bit of little-known history. "Book Woman" is one of those books, deeply researched, honest and lovely on so many levels. Bluet, a mule named Junia and a dozen other characters will stay with me for a long time. This would make a great book club read.

Among the big, splashy programs of the New Deal there was a little known program called the "Pack Horse Library Project as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) program that delivered books to remote regions in the Appalachian Mountains between 1935 and 1943.”  - Wikipedia.
 
Most of the librarians were women who were paid $28 a month and had to provide their own mounts. 
 
That could have been the story: book women traveling through the remote mountains of Kentucky to deliver books to families with no access to the outside world. However, there's another layer: the heroine, Bluet, is a an outcast, a woman of color ... blue, to be specific. She, and generations of her family, shared a rare blood disorder that turns their skin blue.

An aside: In the early-60s as I was walking across Oklahoma University campus, I saw a woman with blue skin and a week later I saw her again. None of my friends had seen her and there was some skepticism about the story. A few years later scientists discovered an enzyme deficiency that caused methemoglobinemia, which causes methemoglobin levels in the red blood cells to rise above 1 percent. It turns the skin blue, the lips purple, and the blood a chocolate brown. 
Papa Smurf
 
I have also since learned that a form of silver poisoning can turn skin blue. This man, known as Papa Smurf has skin color like what I remember about the woman from OU. 

Anyway, the point is that when I read the description about this book inspired by the blue people of Kentucky and a woman librarian who delivered books on horseback, it was a must read.
The book is an Oprah's Buzziest Books Pick for May (who knew there was such a thing) and Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants, says it is "...a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave pack horse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and ― just as importantly ― a compassionate human connection."
 
Some books transport you to a different time and space. In Book Woman, we find life as hard and hungry as the mountains, meet a cantankerous mule named Junia who is always one step away from being shot, and wonder at the connecting power of books, and the unending dance of generosity and discrimination, love and hate.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Love Letters to my life #13: Reflecting on honeymoons and reflections


Morning in Reno
by Joyce Wycoff
 
(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)
 
Everyone loves a honeymoon. Everything’s all bright and shiny and you don’t have to do dishes. 

That’s where I am with Reno … being a casino-town that bills itself as “quirky by choice,” everything about Reno is neon bright and gaudy shiny, and in a tiny house with a tiny kitchen, cooking is minimal and dishes are what you do while the tea water is boiling. The wonder of honeymoons is the childlike delight in discovering each new facet of the beloved.

For instance, on the second morning of the Reno Mural Festival, I had trouble walking the few blocks to my destination. The early morning sun threw reflections across the cityscape that kept blinding me to the task at hand. Like a raven, I kept turning this way and that, not knowing which shiny object to approach first. Finally, I gave in and just started shooting with little thought in mind, until … the whole idea of reflections stopped me.

Reflections aren’t just mirrored images on shiny surfaces. Or, as Wikipedia defines it, "Reflection is the change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two different media so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated.” Talk about a buzz kill! My preferred definition:

Reflection is two surfaces dancing to the music of light. 
 
Reflections on Lake Chapala
I have long loved photographing reflections without thinking much about the magic of two or more surfaces collaborating in an instant of light. There is a “nowness” about reflections. In that moment, something is created that will never exist again in exactly the same way. There is a creative confusion about reflections: confusion about what is “real” and what merely the play of light on a reflective surface, creative as, in this particular moment, something ephemeral is created.

There is a random and generous abundance about reflections, requiring only that I open my eyes to see them. 

Flags after the Rain in Ajijic
Maybe that’s why I move. Being in a new environment forces me to open my eyes. There is a honeymoon period to each new place. However, honeymoons end and a deeper, more nuanced relationship begins to form. As I go through these early, bright and shiny days, when even the tiles in bathrooms call to me, I think there is enough here to build a lasting foundation.  
 
Bathroom tiles
Is this forever? In these early days, it’s too soon to say, but I love the wonder of having my eyes wide open. 
 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

WINNERS Reno Mural Festival 2019

All the murals were outstanding. As one viewer remarked, "All of them make our community a better place." 

That said, the judging must have been really hard ... and the 3 top choices of the official judges were not the same as my 3 top choices, so I will indicate both. The judges with the prize; mine with * - first; ** - second; *** - third. Of course, my opinion doesn't have any monetary value

What fun it was to meet these talented artists and watch them at work. Their murals will remain up until next year when it's time for Reno's 2020 Mural Festival.

"Imagination" by David Puck  **
David Puck: “Imagination" **
@DavidPuckArtist 

“To the eyes of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.” — William Blake

Artist bio: David Puck is a figurative painter and muralist, working in spray paint & oil. Originally from England, they are currently based in California. Through colorful abstracted portraits, their work explores queer experience and mental health. They are inspired by the balance and interaction of opposing forces - realism and abstraction, narrative and obfuscation, joy and melancholy. They have an academic background in Queer History from The University of Oxford, and is currently studying towards working in mental health support. Collectors include Mayim Bialik (TV's Big Bang Theory) and brand Hank&Henry Beauty. Their supporters include drag icons Jinkx Monsoon, Mayhem Miller and Delta Work. Notable mural projects include NYC World Pride, Wide Open Walls festival, Art Share LA, and Meeting Of Styles - so far they have painted murals in eight countries - from Nicaragua to Germany. They are represented by Art Attack SF for the Bay Area CA, and exhibit internationally. 

"Fat Bird" by Eric Weatherford *** (tie)
Eric Weatherford:
"Fat Bird" *** (tie)
OddWall Painting, Decatur, Ill
@oddwallpainting

After receiving his BA in Studio Art from Millikin University in Decatur IL, Eric has been doing freelance painting and design throughout the Central Illinois area. He has painted murals all across the Midwest, designed logos for local businesses, displayed his paintings at galleries all over the nation, and has now created ODDWALL Painting to bring his creative talent to those looking to take their business or home to the next level.

"The Price of Royalty" by Ivan Roque  *
Ivan Roque:
 “The Price of Royalty" *
@ivanjroque

Ivan is a prolific muralist focusing on contemporary metaphorical themes in nature. He uses an unusual form of grid which we decided to call a "doodle grid.” Grids tend to be mathematical and linear. Ivan’s grid is loose, uses symbols placed in a somewhat chaotic form on the wall, and as Ivan says, “It’s fun." The sketch is then transferred to wall using the grid. 

                                                                          
"Frida" by Rafael Blanco - 3rd prize
Rafael Blanco: “Frida” 
-- 3rd prize

Painter, muralist and Art Professor at Feather River College in Quincy, California.

"Astro Crab" by Kate O'Hara - 2nd prize
Kate O’Hara:
“Astro Crab" - 2nd prize
Interview: 
@kateoharaillustration

I'm a freelance Illustrator living in Reno, Nevada. I graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in illustration and typography. I'm currently available for projects, please contact me at kateoharaillustration@gmail.com.

Tahoe Black Bear" by Melissa Ghiglieri - 1st prize & People's Choice
Melissa Ghiglieri: 
“Tahoe Black Bear” 
- 1st prize & People's Choice
Instagram: @mel.ghig

"Ice Queen" by Jiminai - *** (tie)
Jiminai:
"Ice Queen" - *** (tie)
@jiminai

Muralist inspired by all things Japanese.

Dandelion Fluff



Dandelion Fluff

I used to have a path … 
Well, I thought I should have a path
It was slow in coming … 
Seven long decades slow,

But, now I know ...
I’m just dandelion fluff, blowing in the wind
          
Funny thing, though, 
I’m enjoying the ride.
No excuses needed: 
... the wind did it.

No demanding, high-octane plans,
Just this way … and then that.

No one really cares.
Expectations are gone.

They just laugh …
roll their eyes,
saying “dandelion fluff,
blowing in the wind." 

And, as for me … ?

I wish I’d always known
I was just dandelion fluff.   

-- Joyce Wycoff

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Reno Mural Festival - End Day 1



While the muralists were getting ready for another long, hot day, the sun was painting its own murals across Reno.

All the muralists made amazing progress last night and today in spite of the heat. Apparently there are five judges and it will be “brushes down” at 10:00 am tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to be one of the judges. This is an amazing group of artists and choosing one would be torture.

People’s choice award voting will happen all day tomorrow at the ArtFest booth in front of the murals on the walls of Circus Circus. The last picture taken for each artist is shown by their names. Some are close to being finished; some will still change significantly.

David Puck - “Imagination"
Instagram @DavidPuckArtist 
@davidpuckartist

“To the eyes of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.” — William Blake

Artist bio: David Puck is a figurative painter and muralist, working in spray paint & oil. Originally from England, they are currently based in California. Through colorful abstracted portraits, their work explores queer experience and mental health. They are inspired by the balance and interaction of opposing forces - realism and abstraction, narrative and obfuscation, joy and melancholy. They have an academic background in Queer History from The University of Oxford, and is currently studying towards working in mental health support. Collectors include Mayim Bialik (TV's Big Bang Theory) and brand Hank&Henry Beauty. Their supporters include drag icons Jinkx Monsoon, Mayhem Miller and Delta Work. Notable mural projects include NYC World Pride, Wide Open Walls festival, Art Share LA, and Meeting Of Styles - so far they have painted murals in eight countries - from Nicaragua to Germany. They are represented by Art Attack SF for the Bay Area CA, and exhibit internationally. 

-----


Eric Weatherford - "Fat Bird"
OddWall Painting, Decatur, Ill
@oddwallpainting

After receiving his BA in Studio Art from Millikin University in Decatur IL, Eric has been doing freelance painting and design throughout the Central Illinois area. He has painted murals all across the Midwest, designed logos for local businesses, displayed his paintings at galleries all over the nation, and has now created ODDWALL Painting to bring his creative talent to those looking to take their business or home to the next level.
----

Ivan Roque - “The Price of Royalty"
@ivanjroque

Ivan is a prolific muralist focusing on contemporary metaphorical themes in nature. He uses an unusual form of grid which we decided to call a "doodle grid.” Grids tend to be mathematical and linear. Ivan’s grid is loose, uses symbols placed in a somewhat chaotic form on the wall, and as Ivan says, “It’s fun." The sketch is then transferred to wall using the  grid. 

                                                                              ----

Rafael Blanco - “Frida”

Painter, muralist and Art Professor at Feather River College in Quincy, California.



 

----
 
Kate O’Hara - “Crab"
Interview: 
@kateoharaillustration 
 Interview:

I'm a freelance Illustrator living in Reno, Nevada. I graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in illustration and typography. I'm currently available for projects, please contact me at kateoharaillustration@gmail.com.

----

Melissa Ghiglieri - “Bear”
Instagram: @mel.ghig










----

Jiminai - 
@jiminai

Muralist inspired by all things Japanese.