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Nevada Museum of Art presents the first major art historical survey of Lake Tahoe
Lordy Rodriguez, Lake Tahoe, 2014, Ink on paper, 96 x 144 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco.

RENO, NEV.- The Nevada Museum of Art has organized the first major art historical survey exhibition of one of America’s most beloved landscapes. TAHOE: A Visual History spans over two centuries of cultural and creative production related to the second largest freshwater alpine lake in the United States and features more than 400 artworks by 175 painters, photographers, architects, basket weavers, and sculptors. TAHOE: A Visual History is on view August 22, 2015 – January 10, 2016 exclusively at the Nevada Museum of Art, Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts, E. L. Wiegand Gallery, in Reno, Nev. A 488-page book by the same name, co-published with Skira Rizzoli and distributed by Random House, accompanies the exhibition.

Five years in the making, TAHOE: A Visual History presents historical painting, Native baskets, photography, architecture, and contemporary art dedicated to Lake Tahoe, Donner Pass, and the surrounding Sierra Nevada region. Nevada Museum of Art senior curator and deputy director Ann M. Wolfe curated the exhibition.

“Many books and museum exhibitions have been devoted to the art of America’s most scenic and iconic landscapes. Thanks to such scholarship, it is easy to conjure a mental image of the art of Yosemite, Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, or New York’s Hudson River valley,” Wolfe said. “The same cannot be said for the vicinity of Lake Tahoe. This exhibition, and accompanying book, surveys the contributions of hundreds of artists who have made work in or about the region.”

TAHOE: A Visual History combines historically significant cultural and art objects with contemporary works inspired by a shared reverence for region. The exhibition has been organized thematically, though somewhat chronologically to encourage dialogue among museum-goers while simultaneously transcribing historical perspective.

“Art produced in and about a place helps define its cultural identity,” Wolfe said. “Without knowledge or shared understanding of a region’s art and history, it is impossible to celebrate or critically examine its contributions to the broader culture.”

A number of key artworks punctuate the show, including the largest presentation of baskets by Washoe weaver Louisa Keyser (Datsolalee) ever displayed in one place. Keyser is known for her innovative development of the degikup basket form that has become synonymous with the fine art of Washoe basketry. Historical painting highlights include a major 6 x 10 foot painting of Donner Lake made by Albert Bierstadt in 1867, on loan from the New York Historical Society. The painting was commissioned by railroad baron Collis P. Huntington who wanted to celebrate the achievements of the transcontinental railroad. Also on view are many of the smaller oil studies that Bierstadt made in preparation for the large painting. Architectural treasures include original drawings and sketches by Frank Lloyd Wright for a proposed 1923 “Summer Colony” at Emerald Bay that was never built. The development plan featured floating cabins and cabins perched along the shoreline. A 4 x 4 foot model of the Frank Lloyd Wright proposal is on display.

More than 15 contemporary artists are being featured alongside these historical heavyweights. The Nevada Museum of Art has commissioned a number of works for the show, including pieces by Chester Arnold, Russell Crotty, Erica Osborne, Lordy Rodriguez, Nick Van Woert, and internationally-celebrated designer and artist Maya Lin. For the exhibition, Lin created three sculptures, each reflecting on annual precipitation in the Tahoe watershed and water clarity.

TAHOE: A Visual History weaves a comprehensive narrative of two centuries of art and cultural production related to the Lake Tahoe watershed. Section summaries and highlights are as follows:

Features the largest collection of Washoe baskets ever assembled, including examples from Scees Bryant, Lena Dick, Louisa Keyser (Dat-So-La-Lee), and Sarah Mayo.

The first American explorers to the West mapped the region and documented their impressions of Lake Tahoe in journals and sketches. Features maps and journals of John C. Frémont, John Muir, and Charles Preuss.

By the late 19th century, word of Tahoe’s beauty had spread and artists flocked to romanticize it. This section features more than 60 artists, including Albert Bierstadt, Edwin Deakin, Maynard Dixon, Thomas Hill, John Ross Key, and Lorenzo Latimer.

From the earliest days of photography, Tahoe has beckoned photographers to its scenic vistas. Features both early and contemporary works from several artists including Ansel Adams, Anne Brigman, Elizabeth Carmel, Alfred Hart, Peter Goin, Eadweard Muybridge, Carleton Watkins, and Charles Leander Weed.

A thorough survey of historic log structures to sustainable contemporary buildings. Celebrates the diversity of Tahoe architecture through the work of Bernard Maybeck, Frederic de Longchamps, John Maniscalo, Julia Morgan, and Frank Lloyd Wright, among others.

The Nevada Museum of Art brings together works by contemporary artists, all of whom are inspired by the Tahoe region and concerned for its future. Artists include Chester Arnold, Russell Crotty, Matthew Day Jackson, Maya Lin, Richard Long, Lordy Rodriguez, Phyllis Shafer, Nick Van Woert, and others.

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