By Miriam W. Hodgman
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International travelers, absinthe, native baskets, pink bear, music, art, magic, conversation and vision. These are just a few words that come to mind when introducing you to Wildflower Village, an enclave of imagination like a kaleidoscope “welcome mat” on West Fourth Street in Reno. Wildflower Village, sanctuary to art galleries, Reno’s only hostel, bar, café, and free-flowing art spilling onto the walls of its buildings, held its three-day Wildstock festival this weekend. The event was owner Pat Campbell’s effort to keep the space alive by helping pay back-taxes and also potentially connecting with investors who appreciate the Village’s entrepreneurial nature.
Can artists rekindle, revive, and restore neighborhoods in decline? Campbell, who formerly managed real estate for a major bank in Reno, believes so. When she saw the six-plus-acre site for sale 18 years ago, a property which reflected the pattern of decay common along West Fourth Street, the entrepreneur in her was kindled. Now many small businesses and peripheral artists operate under the Wildflower Village banner.
Pat’s commitment to community-based collaboration has prompted support. A cast of passionate volunteers came out over the weekend to support Wildflower. At the front gate Xelena “Empress of the Impossible” worked her magic, escaping from handcuffs and reading minds; professional sign language interpreter and Artown flash mob organizer Andrea Juillerat-Olivera painted faces; over twenty performers graced the stage, including Artown openers Jelly Bread and new acts like duo Kaitlin Oki and Gabe Hilton’s Ursa Loxodonta.
In the Open Door Gallery local artists’ works were beautifully displayed. Ron Forinash, a Nevada resident attending the event, said that he was pleased with two hand-woven baskets he discovered at the gallery. Ron said, “I’m local and know when something is the real deal. I purchased reasonably priced art to send my brother in Australia, who now enjoys authentic art from Nevada in his home.” Elsewhere in Wildflower Village, James Dilworth channeled automatic “writing,” via his Hermes typewriter. Give James a word or two and he’ll provide a spontaneous bit of prose that is more enlightening than shaking the proverbial 8-Ball. In Wildflower’s cozy Czech influenced bar, visitors can enjoy the “green fairie,” absinthe, and other tasty beverages like Murphy’s Stout or an Italian beer.
Everyone spoken with at Wildstock agreed — Wildflower Village is an exceptional place unlike any other in northern Nevada. It provides an alternative venue for groups like Burning Man to hold events, local artists to showcase their wares and perform, international visitors to launch their adventures in Reno from and much more.
According to event coordinators Mike MacMillan and owner Pat Cambell, by Saturday an estimated 300 tickets at $10 a piece had been sold.
Anyone interested in exploring ways to participate in Wildflower Village can call Pat Campbell at 775-747-8848, email Pat at patcampbell[email protected], or visit Wildflower Village on the web, at www.wildflowervillage.com.