For the third summer in a row it has been my pleasure to participate in an extraordinary art show that juxtaposes art and recent local history in a beautiful and inviting venue, the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. All three years I have been extremely fortunate to find creative and talented people who were not only knowledgeable and passionate about a theme, but were able to bring an idea to fruition. This year those people were Joan Arrizabalaga and Michele Basta, whose friendship contributed to the success of the show and this book.
Having both grown up in Fallon, Nevada in the 50s and 60s, Joan and Michele would have been surprised to know that in 2013 they would collaborate on a production such as “The Art of Gaming +;” that together they would plan and orchestrate a major exhibit populated by the acclaimed artwork of Joan and her fellow artists in a magnificent, award-winning library that Michele had participated in designing. Michele Basta has been widely recognized for her role in the fundraising campaign that made the building possible, but not everyone is aware that she played a major part in establishing the principles of the building design to include ample and elegant space for art and cultural exhibits.
“The Art of Gaming +” continues in the tradition of “Postwar Bohemians in Northern Nevada” (summer 2011) and “Far Out: The University Art Scene, 1960-1975” (summer 2012) by uncovering and bringing together art and historical materials to enrich students’ lives, resonate with our larger community, and entertain and surprise visitors. No other public building on campus or perhaps anywhere else in the city can accommodate the range of art and cultural presentation that is part of this show and still carry on with its normal business. Like Jim McCormick and Walt McNamara in the previous shows, Michele and Joan have tapped into a local community of art and history enthusiasts. We owe a special thanks to the Stremmel Gallery and Harrah’s for setting our stage in 1995 and helping to resurrect “lost” art.
We hope that you will enjoy Michele’s guided tour through facets of Reno’s recent cultural history and her rich tidbits about the history and aesthetics of gaming, as well as the stories of artists who felt a connection with that life, and with each other. In her essay, she brings to life a story of how the art of gaming in Reno was allowed to flourish through a partnership between a business community and an art community. Special Collections is proud to help write the latest chapter in the continuing story of people and enterprises collaborating to enrich our community’s understanding of our unique cultural environment and to see our world through artists’ eyes.
—Donnelyn Curtis, Editor; Head of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries