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Above board: Artists paint plywood to cover broken business windows

By Jeri Chadwell
Published: Last Updated on

Artists were wrapping up their work late Thursday afternoon, painting plywood panels to cover 11 windows and glass doors broken out of the storefronts of Antique Angel Wedding Chapel and Antique Angel Gifts on Virginia Street.

The gift store owner, Ginger (who declined to use her last name), is roommates with Antique Angel chapel’s lead minister, Bev.

On Sunday, June 7, dozens of motorcycle club members belonging to the Nevada Confederation of Clubs showed up to a vigil organized by the local Black Lives Matter chapter. They stood together on the west side of the Virginia Street bridge, saying their purpose was to guard the businesses there—Bev and Ginger’s included. Ginger told reporters at Sunday’s vigil that bikers like Jim McClain—a member of the Marines Motorcycle Club and veteran of the Vietnam War—who showed up and stood in front of her business with others from his club, were “heroes” and “protectors.”

A mural on plywood covering the broken windows at Antique Angel Wedding Chapel in downtown Reno. Image: Jeri Davis
A mural on plywood covering the broken windows at Antique Angel Wedding Chapel in downtown Reno. Image: Jeri Davis

Since things have quieted down, artists have begun painting the plywood covering storefronts, and even public buildings like Reno’s City Hall—a project being undertaken by locally renowned muralist Joe C. Rock.  

According to artist Lauren Hufft, of Reno Art Works, the plywood paintings are being funded in part by grants from the City of Reno.

Over the course of the last week, Hufft recruited 11 artists to paint 11 plywood panels to cover the broken windows of the Antique Angel businesses. She said the idea came to her while she was on a walk with Geralda Miller, executive director of non-profit arts organization Art Spot Reno, and came across Ginger in front of her store.

Hufft said she wanted the contributing artists to get paid and so launched a social media fundraising campaign. Her idea was that people could sponsor a window for $100 and that each artist would be paid the same.

“Within a half an hour, I’d raised $550,” she said.

According to Hufft, Reno city councilmembers Devon Reese and Naomi Duerr both made donations. Reese and his spouse donated privately. Duerr donated from her discretionary budget as a city councilmember as well as personal donation. Hufft said donations allowed her to pay the artists and provide them with catered lunch from a local company.

Hufft said that the City of Reno had offered to help fund the paintings, but that she’s actually yet to figure out an amount for which she’ll ask.

“Truthfully, I’ve not filled out the paperwork yet for the city—because I was able to cover everything [with donations],” Hufft said.

According to Alexis Hill, City of Reno arts, culture and special events manager, Duerr’s funds are being processed, but additional city funds for these types of projects is currently frozen, so additional money may not be in the cards. 

“I have paid everybody as of today, but I want to be able to go above and beyond and pay them even more—because look at this,” Hufft said, adding she thinks this kind of public art as a way to heal the community.

Ginger and Bev’s businesses were vandalized during the riot. According Ginger, in addition to broken windows, the Antique Angel businesses suffered graffiti and a thorough coating of tear gas residue.

“She’s been dealing with all of this, plus the residue from the tear gas,” Hufft said.

“And I have been affected by that all day—touching stuff,” Ginger said. “We’ve got to clean everything. And then the small shop … the art gallery, every piece of glass and every piece of art has to be cleaned because it’s got a residue on it. … I’d say there was probably a good nine, maybe 10, tear gas canisters right here [after the riots].”

Ginger and Bev are cleaning up but in the meantime are grateful for the painted plywood—which they asked the artists to paint with wedding-related imagery rather than political messages.

Dale Slingland, a Reno native, was among the artists finishing up work outside the Antique Angel businesses on Thursday afternoon. He was putting the final touches on a painting of two doves in flight carrying a red ribbon between their beaks.

Dale Slingland paints two doves on plywood covering the windows of the Antique Angel Wedding Chapel. Image: Jeri Davis
Dale Slingland paints two doves on plywood covering the windows of the Antique Angel Wedding Chapel. Image: Jeri Davis

“She wanted angels and hearts. I don’t really like angels or hearts, so I kind of pushed the limit. … I was thinking about marriage, the chapel,” he said.

Next to Slingland’s panel is one that depicts a late evening Reno skyline. Others feature flowers and cherubs with wedding rings for halos.

As Slingland finished his panel, he reflected on what it’s like to be asked to contribute his work to local businesses worried about vandalism.

“It’s a pretty strange time to live in, actually,” he said. “It’s one of those things you think you’d never see—a riot in Reno and then a need for people to clean it up.”

Asa Kennedy, another artist finishing a panel to cover the broken windows on Thursday afternoon, was glad to contribute to the effort—especially, he said, a damaged business—but wondered what message boarding up businesses throughout downtown will send.

“Some people are doing it preventatively,” he said. “Some people are doing it for temporary restoration. I mean, windows aren’t free. There’s an element of panic there within the precaution, from some people doing it preventatively. It can’t really be defined, but it’s very clear that something happened. Violent actions have taken place and now people are scared. They think that one example is going to set precedent for reality in months to come. You can’t gauge these things.”