Northern Nevada has become a hub for wine walks and pub crawls — if you want to dress like Santa, a leprechaun or a zombie while drinking a nice pinot or craft beer, there’s a weekend event for you.
But what if we flipped the script and started a new idea, one in which “crawlers” were in search of cultural events that virtually transported them to other regions of the world or elevated their spirits through artistic sights? What if locals could design their own cultural crawl, spending a day touring local hot spots dedicated to the arts?
The team at arte italia is in full support of this idea, offering locals a destination that celebrates cultural heritage in its historic building at 442 Flint Street.
It was one of the most telling photographic exhibits I have ever seen.”
“It seems natural to kick off this kind of crawl right here in this building, located in Reno’s cultural core,” said Kristen Avansino, president of the non-profit organization. “Our home was designed by renowned architect Frederick J. Delongchamps, who has strong historic ties to Nevada.”
Right now, arte italia is featuring a free exhibit of photographs and multi-media images called NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy. Of the exhibit, local voiceover actor, radio and TV host Connie Wray-Gaudard said, “It was one of the most telling photographic exhibits I have ever seen. To experience the transformation of Italy through photos was breathtaking.”
Many local families of Italian descent are finding this a great way to explore their own cultural heritage; others are using it as a teaching tool to dive into the ways war changes a culture. But all are walking away with a renewed appreciation for photography and the perseverance of an entire culture in the face of devastation caused by political turmoil.
“It was absolutely stunning and educational,” Wray-Gaudard said. “And to experience it inside the historic arte italia building made it even more beautiful.”
After a visit to arte and Neorealismo — which is on exhibit weekends for a limited time, only through Dec. 29 — locals wanting to build their own cultural crawl could visit neighboring museums — including the Nevada Museum of Art, National Automobile Museum, and those featured here on Yelp, for example.
“Even in the colder months, we’re an entirely walkable neighborhood,” Avansino said. “There are places all over where you can pop in, explore, even some where you can enjoy a warm cup of coffee and a good conversation.”
The best part, she says, is that a cultural crawl can be very inexpensive — or even free, depending on your destinations.
“At arte italia, for example, our art exhibits are free — thanks to the charitable support of the E. L. Wiegand Foundation, which purchased the mansion to commemorate and perpetuate Italian culture through the exploration and conservation of culinary and visual arts.”
Another free opportunity: access the Downtown Reno Mural and Public Art map provided by Art Spot Reno, and add a few destinations featuring large-scale art to your personalized cultural crawl. Art Spot Executive Director Geralda Miller says that the arts organization also has been offering public and private tours for a small fee for the last six years, taking the public on a docent-guided artistic exploration. These walks feature a discussion of the art and its design, details about the artist and often place the piece in historical context.
“I applaud anyone who wants to learn about our city’s art and culture,” she said. “I would hope that our local residents creating their own crawls are celebrating the art and artists. And if not, please come on one of our tours and have a fun time learning all about it.”
The Downtown Reno Library, with its historic atrium and rich local heritage, is another cultural destination within walking distance of arte italia. And a visit to Sundance Books and Music (housed inside the historic Levy Mansion) and the McKinley Arts and Culture Center could round out the experience.
“We’re in this hub of all of these incredible educational destinations,” Avansino said. “Locals can make a day of it — walk or drive if it’s snowing, visit all these amazing places that will grow your mind and help you learn about arts and culture.”
Plus, having a “cultural hangover” sounds far better than the pub crawl corollary.
NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy, 1932 – 1960
On view at arte italia:
Through December 29, 2019
442 Flint Street, formerly the Hardy House
Gallery hours: Friday through Sunday, 12 to 5 PM
Admission: Free of charge
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