The idea came to local artist/promoter Tony Walker two years back in 2010. It just took a bit longer than expected to execute. The premise? Small pieces of art (approximately 24 inches by 24 inches in size), by over 100 local artists, for an affordable price (ranging $10-$100)—to benefit local artists by creating a community grant.
A conference in Denver for leaders in the arts, with multiple workshops and discussions, inspired Walker in the way different cities across the country come up with the funds to support artists in spite of a faltering economy.
With people less willing to indulge on art, artists not financially supported by an institution find it difficult to keep their creativity lucrative—or even see their ideas manifest, according to Walker.
Walker took his inspiration back to Reno, but found little support.
“I gave some of my ideas to different groups here and no one utilized them,” he says.
So, Walker did what any dedicated promoter would do: saddle the responsibility on himself. The show Walker is finally able to realize circles around the idea of affordable art for the average pocket book and includes pieces by better known local artists like Ahren Hertel, Jaxon Northon and Greg Allen, and relatively unknown local artists.
By requiring the artists to submit works with a small maximum measurement, Walker can ensure the price tags remain low. The hope is to boost the amount of overall sales, something participating artist Anastasiia Sapon can vouch for being difficult to do when keeping a higher price.
“Both times I’ve submitted for Reno, owners told me my prices were too high,” she says. “They say, ‘It’s Reno, you should sell it for cheaper.’”
The grant, titled Good Works, like the art show benefiting it, will be made available for all types of visual artists (photographers, painters, sketchers, etc.), with only one current restriction—the artist must work as an independent and not be supported by a local or national institution.
“This is for the people who can’t afford school but have good ideas and need money to realize their work,” Walker says. “It’s for the have-nots.”
Grant applicants will then apply at the end of January, with the beneficiary being the artist with the best proposal for the allocation and use of the funds.
“The idea is for them to do something that’s self empowering and self improving,” Walker says.
He would like to see an art show for the granted artist transpire at the end of the funds use. But he’s leaving many of the finer details up to a board set up to monitor and distribute the money.
If all goes well, Walker sees both the show and grant becoming an annual occasion.
This time around, the month-long benefit show begins Dec. 6, and stays up through Jan. 2. The opening reception will be held at Java Jungle at 7 p.m., with snacks provided. The show’s other venues will include Jungle Vino, Sierra Tap House, Bar, Whiskey and Se7en Tea House. Live music supplied by local band Clock’s Magic Bandits will begin at 9 p.m. at Se7en. The venues will donate 10 percent of their opening night sales to the grant, with the majority of the grant money coming from the sale of the artwork itself.
“There are so many creative people, and they just go unheard and unseen,” says Walker. “I try to find them and get them out of their comfort zone—show people what they’re capable of.”