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Artown Opening Week: bigger and better


The first week of Artown has just come to an end. The annual northern Nevada festival, held each July, offers hundreds of free events all around town for everyone to enjoy and create. Despite the pandemic placing a prohibition on these events from taking place as normal, Artown is not slowing down.

For this unique 25th celebration of Artown, almost everything has moved online. Kicking off with the “Opening Night Extravaganza,” Artown hosted a live-streamed concert July 1 with more than 20 musical acts. The stream ended with a dance demonstration from Israel’s “Vertigo Dance Company.”

The participating artists sent in videos of their performances for the “Opening Night Extravaganza,” with some bands using platforms like Zoom to record all the parts together. Seeing each act discover new ways to get together and record their music was inspiring. These artists were not going to let the pandemic get in the way of expressing themselves and sharing their music.

Beth Macmillan and Oliver X hosted Artown's online July 1 opening night.
Beth Macmillan and Oliver X hosted Artown’s online July 1 opening night.

Artown’s Beth Macmillan and Oliver X hosted the livestream event. The two helped introduce acts, thank sponsors, and provide more insight on what’s to come as the festival continues.

“Artown is more interactive than ever,” Oliver X said, encouraging those who haven’t participated in past years to get involved.

This year’s Artown poster reflects these feelings of eagerness to share art and create. Ivette Valenzuela designed the poster, intentionally including a symbolic representation of each genre of art (i.e. theater, literature, music, etc.). A woman is the focal point of the poster. Valenzuela explained her intentions were to recreate the feeling of joy one feels when around art. She was able to accomplish this by using vibrant colors and raw facial expressions.

The rest of the first week of Artown included dance classes, improv, art tours, and more. Most events take place online and will remain online throughout July for anyone to go back and revisit.

Some events are still taking place in person if they can adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, such as the “Music and Chanting with Shanti Shanti.” This musical healing event took place with plenty of room for social distancing, allowing the community to gather.

And as if all this wasn’t inspiring already, Artown has started a new community project – Heartown. The intention of Heartown is to support the community and encourage everyone to create art at home. A special gallery is listed on their website as more submissions are given.

If you’ve missed out of the first week of Artown, don’t worry. There are still plenty of events taking place every single day of July. Visit www.artown.org to see what’s to come or visit www.youtube.com/user/renoisartown/videos to view previous events.

Playing For Change during Artown's opening night online event.
Playing For Change performs during Artown’s opening night online event.

Opening Night Line-Up

  • MarchFourth Marching Band
  • The Hot Sardines
  • Jake Shimabukuro
  • Tim Snider
  • Mariachi Acero de Las Vegas
  • Davina and the Vagabonds
  • Playing for Change
  • AJ Croce
  • Ensemble Mik Nawooi
  • Time for Three
  • Pamyua
  • Kronos Quartet
  • Charlie Musselwhite
  • CoolNasty
  • Landau Eugene Murphy Jr
  • Resistance Revival Chorus
  • Keb’Mo’
  • Pao Know
  • NaLei Hulu I Ka Wekiu
  • Shelea
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • Vertigo Dance Party
Kylie Burns
Kylie Burns
Kylie Burns has been living in Reno for over two decades. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her non-fiction work can also be found in Broadway Baby. When she isn't reviewing art and culture events in Reno, she's hogging the spotlight in karaoke or trying her hand at mixology.