The Arts

Ben Cunningham

Ben Cunningham (1904-1975) arrived in San Francisco in 1925 and worked for the Federal Arts Project as a muralist. He developed a significant reputation on the East Coast with his hard-edge geometric paintings during the 1940s and 50s. The artist spent his formative years in Reno, and upon his death two large Nevada-inspired paintings were donated to the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Art.

Gilbert Natches

Gilbert Natches was a Native American artist whose panoramic oil paintings of the Pyramid Lake region were realized with a limited palette and uncomplicated compositions. A nephew of Sarah Winnemucca, Natches gained recognition in 1914 by editing Northern Paiute texts for the noted anthropologist, Arthur Kroeber, at the University of California in Berkeley.

Below is reprinted with permission from the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly.

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh established his artistic reputation in Nevada with one painting. "Las Vegas Ranch," executed in 1876, was painted as the artist was resting on his way to a mining camp in Southern California. It has the distinction of being the first known painting of the Las Vegas Valley. Dellenbaugh studied art in New York, Munich, and Paris. However, it is his career as a topographer and writer that is highly regarded to this day.
Below is reprinted with permission from the Nevada Historical Society Quarterly.

Fred Maxwell

Fred Maxwell was born in Denmark and spent part of his youth in the care of an English sea captain and his wife–sailing around the world, eventually becoming a merchant seaman. Maxwell arrived in San Francisco in 1890 and traveled over the west, prospecting and painting landscapes. He settled in Yerington, Nevada, in 1912 and entrusted a number of his paintings to the Nevada Historical Society. He disappeared in the central Nevada desert in 1932; a prospector named "Burro" Smith discovered his body four years later.

Twentieth-Century Nevada Drama

Like other aspects of Nevada's social and cultural life, professional theater suffered from the decline in the state's economy that spanned the turn of the twentieth century. By the 1930s, the economy had begun to recover somewhat, due in part to legalized gambling, the end of Prohibition, and Reno's emergence as a destination for Americans seeking speedy divorces.

Thomas Jasper Summers

He proudly proclaimed, "I'm the ultimate Renaissance Man–if there's ever a renaissance in Verdi, I'll be in the forefront." For several decades, Thomas Jasper Summers (1924-2002) divided his time between teaching and art. His self-published pen and ink drawings of regional landmarks were reproduced on notecards and posters and became familiar images in galleries and bookstores around Reno, Nevada.

Theresa Smokey Jackson

Washoe basket maker Theresa Smokey Jackson came from a long line of weavers. She started learning to make willow baskets when she was just a teenager. She and her sister, JoAnn Smokey Martinez, grew up speaking Washoe and participating in many traditional Native American ways of life such as gathering pine nuts and basket materials. Jackson had extensive knowledge of Washoe customs, which she generously shared and passed on to younger generations.

Thelma Davis Calhoun

In 1944, Thelma Davis Calhoun (1913-1998) and her husband, James W. Calhoun (1903-1993), drove from the couple's home in Seattle, Washington, to Virginia City, Nevada. Thelma often said their relocation to the Comstock was literally determined "by the toss of a coin." One year later, the Calhouns settled in Carson City–James would become the director of the Nevada State Museum in 1951, and Thelma would be recognized as one of the foremost painters in northern Nevada.

TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

When Stephanie Richardson was in a car accident in 2005, she lost the fingers on her left hand. But instead of letting it keep her down, it inspired her to follow her dreams. Richardson, a professional actress who moved to Reno in 2000, thought she might open her own theater program one day. After the accident, she decided to make it a reality, resulting in the birth of the TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada (TWNN).

The Misfits

The story of The Misfits (1961) was conceived when playwright Arthur Miller waited out his own divorce in Nevada and was impressed by the way the region's isolation and alienation affect and reflect its residents. He also saw a means of providing a suitable but challenging screen role for the woman he was planning to marry, Marilyn Monroe.


Subscribe to The Arts