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Exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art tells the story of the Greater West
Chris Burden, All the Submarines of the United States of America, 1987, Cardboard, vinyl thread, typeface, Overall: 158 x 216 x 144 inches. Dallas Museum of Art purchase with funds donated by the Jolesch Acquisition Fund, The 500, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, Bradbury Dyer, III, Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Michael C. Mewhinney, Deedie and Rusty Rose, and Mr. and Mrs. William T. Solomon. “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures” at New Museum, New York, 2013. Courtesy New Museum, New York. © Chris Burden. Image courtesy of The Chris Burden Estate and Gagosian. Photo: Benoit Pailley.

RENO, NEV.- Unsettled amasses 200 artworks by 80 artists spanning 2,000 years to explore the geography of frontiers characterized by vast expanses of open land, rich natural resources, diverse indigenous peoples, colonialism, and the ongoing conflicts that inevitably arise when these factors coexist. Through a broad selection of art and artifacts, the story of the Greater West-- a super-region bounded from Alaska to Patagonia, and from Australia to the American West-- unfolds through this landmark exhibition. Curated by Nevada Museum of Art Curatorial Director and Curator of Contemporary Art JoAnne Northrup in collaboration with legendary artist Ed Ruscha, Unsettled opened August 26, 2017, and remains on view through January 21, 2018 at the Nevada Museum of Art, Donald W. Reynolds Center for the Visual Arts, E. L. Wiegand Gallery located in downtown Reno, Nevada. The show will travel to the Anchorage Museum, followed by the Palm Springs Art Museum.

“The artists selected for Unsettled foretell the world’s future while simultaneously looking back to honor indigenous ancestors who created cultures and made places here millennia before it was declared ‘unsettled.’ The title of the show is intentionally ambiguous and resonates on many levels depending on the chosen meaning of the term,” said Northrup. “The works presented reverberate with one or more meanings of the adjective ‘unsettled,’ including lacking stability; worried and uneasy; liable to change; unpredictable; not yet resolved; not yet paid; and having no settlers or inhabitants.”

In addition to working closely with Ruscha, the Nevada Museum of Art collaborated with both the Anchorage Museum and Palm Springs Art Museum to help shape the content of Unsettled. These partner institutions are lending several works from their permanent collections to the show to engage in dialogue with several objects from the Nevada Museum of Art collections, artists commissions, and additional loans.

Unsettled is divided into five thematic areas, which overlap and reinforce each other. They are: “Shifting Ground” (geology as agency for creation and destruction); “Colliding Cultures” (successive peoples settling and resettling territories); “Colonizing Resources” (natural resources as necessities or property); “The Sublime Open” (sublime landscapes elevating curiosity to profound enchantment and terror); and “Experimental Diversity” (peoples giving rise to artistic practices—traditional, technological, visionary—that converge and converse over time). As a touchstone, each thematic area includes work by Ruscha, whose singular perspective on the world and experiences in the ever-changing West have informed the content of the exhibition, as well as shaped the selection of artworks for it. Eight works by Ruscha will be shown, including his iconic Chocolate Room which debuted at the 1970 Venice Biennale.

Focusing on work by artists living and/or working in the Greater West, Unsettled covers a specific geography that begins in Alaska and continues down the west coast of North America, through Central America, concluding in Columbia.

The artists and artworks chosen to tell the compelling Greater West narrative revealed through the exhibition span time, place, gender, and race, challenging the definitions of the latter. Several indigenous contemporary artists like Wendy Red Star, Nicholas Galanin, Brian Jungen, Jaune Quick-to-see Smith, and Teri Rofkar are included alongside numerous Latin American artists such as Ana Teresa Fernández, Sonia Falcone, Minerva Cuevas, Graciela Iturbide, and Rufino Tamayo. These diverse voices appear in conversation with the likes of Mark Bradford, Chris Burden, Bruce Conner, Trevor Paglen, Edgar Arceneaux, Rodney Graham, Emily Carr, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Pre-Columbian art lent by the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as well as several exemplary southwest pots from the John and Brenda Blom collection round out the exhibition’s ancient roots. Tantalizing the olfactory sense, San Francisco-based artist Bruno Fazzolari has created a unique scent specifically for the show.

“Unlike the reliably consistent western film genre, the unsettled land of the Greater West is liable to change, unpredictable, and not yet resolved—we create our future as we move forward and cannot foresee the outcome,” Northrup said.

Throughout the exhibition’s run, a number of educational and public programs will take place at the Nevada Museum of Art, ranging from a September 23 premiere talk by Ed Ruscha and JoAnne Northrup, to events celebrating the numerous indigenous contemporary artists in the show, sampling flavors of the West, hands-on family programs and more. Also on September 23, 3hattrio, an “American Desert Music” band led by Western Folklife Center founder Hal Cannon, will perform a special concert in the Wayne and Miriam Prim Theater. Unsettled appears as part of the Museum’s Art + Environment exhibition season and correlates with the 2017 Art + Environment Conference, a triennial Museum production that takes place October 19 – 21, 2017.

A major publication accompanies the exhibition, one that also serves as the field guide for the Conference. Published by Hirmer Verlag, Unsettled, the book, comprises 224 pages and features 110 color images. It will be distributed nationally by the University of Chicago Press, and internationally by Thames-Hudson. The book will be available for purchase in the Nevada Museum of Art Museum Shop, and at both the Anchorage Museum and Palm Springs Art Museum.

Unsettled is organized by the Nevada Museum of Art, and curated by its Curatorial Director and Curator of Contemporary Art JoAnne Northrup, in collaboration with Ed Ruscha.

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