The E. L. Wiegand Collection: Representing the Work Ethic in American Art

The artworks that comprise the E. L. Wiegand Collection date from the early twentieth century to the present and represent various manifestations of the work ethic in American art. While many emphasize people undertaking the physical act of labor, others focus on different types of work environments ranging from domestic interiors and rural landscapes to urban cityscapes and industrial scenes. By expanding the definition of the term work ethic to encompass a broad range of activities undertaken by a diverse spectrum of people from various cultural and socioeconomic groups, the collection seeks to acknowledge all those who have devoted their lives to the tireless pursuit of work.

Edwin L. Wiegand was a successful entrepreneur and inventor who made Reno his home in 1971. He died in 1980 at the age of 88, and the E. L. Wiegand Foundation was established in Reno in 1982 for general charitable purposes.

The Nevada Museum of Art thanks the E. L. Wiegand Foundation for their generous, ongoing support of this unique permanent collection.

 

The Latimer School: Lorenzo Latimer and the Latimer Art Club

Organized on the 90th anniversary of the Nevada Museum of Art, this exhibition brings together landscape paintings by the watercolor painter Lorenzo Latimer, alongside those of the artists he mentored, including Mattie S. Conner, Marguerite Erwin, Dora Groesbeck, Hildegard Herz, Nettie McDonald, Minerva Pierce, Echo Mapes Robinson, Nevada Wilson, and Dolores Samuel Young. These artists joined together to formally found the Latimer Art Club in 1921. The Latimer Art Club is still active and celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021.

The Latimer Art Club was the founding volunteer organization of the Nevada Art Gallery, which is known today as the Nevada Museum of Art. The San Francisco-based painter Lorenzo Latimer first visited Fallen Leaf Lake on the south side of Lake Tahoe in summer 1914. It was there that he began to teach annual plein air painting classes. In 1916, he was invited by two students to teach a painting class in Reno. He returned for the next twenty years and became a cherished member of the Northern Nevada arts community.

The watercolor paintings by Latimer and his students of the Truckee Meadows, Washoe Valley, Lake Tahoe, and Pyramid Lake are foundational to the history of Northern Nevada’s outdoor painting tradition. By 1931, the Latimer Club joined together with the visionary humanist scholar and scientist Dr. James Church to establish the Nevada Art Gallery, now the Nevada Museum of Art. The founding group planned art exhibitions and interdisciplinary public programs for the nascent museum for many years.

The exhibition is co-curated by Nevada art specialist Jack Bacon and Ann M. Wolfe, Andrea and John C. Deane Family Senior Curator and Deputy Director. The exhibition will be accompanied by a major book with an introduction by Wolfe and an essay by Alfred C. Harrison, a nineteenth-century painting scholar and art historian with a special emphasis on California art.

This exhibition is accompanied by a juried exhibition of the present-day Latimer Art Club members on view in the Wayne L. Prim Theater Gallery from July 10 – September 1, 2021.

About the Book

Commemorating the history of the Latimer Art Club
Essays by Ann M. Wolfe, Alfred C. Harrison, Jr.
Hardcover, 375 pages, published by Jack Bacon & Company

Lead Sponsor

Wayne L. Prim Foundation

Major Sponsors

The Bretzlaff Foundation

Sponsors

The Thelma B. and Thomas P. Hart Foundation
Sandy Raffealli | Bill Pearce Motors
The Phil and Jennifer Satre Family Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada
Jenny and Garrett Sutton | Corporate Direct

Supporting Sponsors

Kathie Bartlett
The Chica Charitable Gift Fund
Michael and Tammy Dermody
Dickson Realty
Irene Drews in memory of J. George Drews, watercolor painter and longtime instructor in the Nevada Museum of Art E. L. Cord Museum School
Edgar F. Kleiner
Sierra Integrated Systems
Betsy and Henry Thumann

Additional Support

Enid Oliver, Financial Consultant & Wealth Manager

The E. L. Wiegand Collection: Representing the Work Ethic in American Art

The artworks that comprise the E. L. Wiegand Collection date from the early twentieth century to the present and represent various manifestations of the work ethic in American art. While many emphasize men or women undertaking the physical act of labor, others focus on different types of work environments ranging from domestic interiors and rural landscapes to urban cityscapes and industrial scenes. By expanding the definition of the term work ethic to encompass a broad range of activities undertaken by a diverse spectrum of people from various cultural and socioeconomic groups, the collection seeks to acknowledge all those who have devoted their lives to the tireless pursuit of work.

Edwin L. Wiegand was a successful entrepreneur and inventor who made Reno his home in 1971. He died in 1980 at the age of 88, and the E. L. Wiegand Foundation was established in Reno in 1982 for general charitable purposes.

The Nevada Museum of Art thanks the E. L. Wiegand Foundation for their generous, ongoing support of this unique permanent collection.  

Extraction

The Nevada Museum of Art is known, in part, for its permanent collection that includes artworks with a thematic focus on how humans interact with natural, built, and virtual environments. For many artists, this means responding to how landscapes change as a result of using natural resources to power the world. Today, energy resources are classified as either renewable or non-renewable—and include everything from water, air, coal, minerals and forests, to wind, geothermal, and solar.

The works on view in this exhibition often reveal what is hidden from everyday view: the massive industrial infrastructure needed to power life in the twenty-first century. Increasingly, visual artists have turned their attention to lesser-known sociocultural impacts that such large-scale operations bring about. Taken together, these artistic responses bear witness to the complex system of exchange required for the extraction, collection, storage, and transmission of natural resources.

This exhibition is designed to address the Nevada Academic Content Standards for Science. In grades six through twelve, students are required to explore Human Impacts on Earth Systems. By engaging with the works and themes in this exhibition, students are presented with opportunities to evaluate, explain, debate, and analyze the management and use of our natural resources, and the impacts of human activities on natural systems.

Art of the Greater West

The Robert S. and Dorothy J. Keyser Art of the Greater West Collection at the Nevada Museum of Art aims to make connections between artistic practices and diverse cultures of the Greater West super-region—a geographic area that spans from Alaska to Patagonia, and from Australia to the American West. The artworks included in this small, focused, survey exhibition encourage conversations surrounding indigenous cultural practices such as mark-making and mapping; visual representations of settlement and expansion; and depictions of changes to the landscape brought about by colliding cultures.

The interpretive materials designed for this exhibition are directly tied to Nevada Department of Education K-12 Social Studies Standards.  

Spinifex: Aboriginal Paintings from the Robert Kaplan and Margaret Levi Collection

This exhibition of Aboriginal paintings made by the Spinifex People of the Great Victoria Desert in Western Australia is drawn from the private collection of Seattle-based couple Robert Kaplan and Margaret Levi. The Spinifex Arts Project was established in 1996 as a way for the Spinifex people to record and document land ownership following their forced expulsion from the Great Victoria Desert due to the Australian government’s atomic testing program in the 1950s.

Dennis Parks: Land, Language and Clay

Dennis Parks is a ceramist who moved to the rural ghost town of Tuscarora, Nevada in 1966, where he established the internationally-known Tuscarora Pottery School. Parks is regarded as a leading practitioner of the single-firing method (normally pottery is fired twice) and for firing with discarded crankcase oil. His techniques are spelled out in his guide published by Charles Scribner’s Sons. More than 10,000 copies have been sold.

Larry Mitchell: The 1ºC Project

Australian painter Larry Mitchell has been traveling to the South Pacific Islands since the late 1970s, and for more than twenty years sailing to and painting the effects of globalization and climate change on the islands in the Indian Ocean, in particular the Abrolhos group off Western Australia. He has taken these concerns across the Southern Hemisphere to as far away as the Antarctic. His works, often panoramic paintings based on detailed topographical sketches and photographs, use the techniques of visual representation deployed by voyages of exploration during earlier centuries, but ironically now in the cause of documenting the changes wrought as a result of that very colonialization.

More than twenty years ago Mitchell noticed that life in the small islands and fishing villages in the Southern Hemisphere was changing. Tropical storms were becoming more frequent and devastating, palm trees were dying off, the fishing stocks were depleted, and reef life less robust. After the turn of the last century it was apparent that industrial-scale trawler fishing was making it impossible for local fishermen to be economically competitive, and that the warming of the oceans was causing the storms to increase and ocean levels to rise. The islands of the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, and the coastal villages of Papua New Guinea were drowning. To add insult to injury, ill-advised and illegal logging was also taking a toll.

Mitchell, who had started out painting places that he loved, re-conceived this part of his artistic practice into what he now calls the 1ºC Project, which refers to the one-degree centigrade increase in ocean temperatures that is causing so many of the changes he is witnessing. His travels in the waters of the Southern Hemisphere have now taken him around the tip of Patagonia, through Tierra del Fuego, and down into the sub-Antarctic islands. This exhibition is drawn from the extensive archives of the project that Mitchell has donated to the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Larry Mitchell was born 1953 in Northhampton, just north of Geraldton, Western Australia. Spending as much of his childhood as possible near or in the ocean, he travelled to London in the 1980s, and studied the work of everyone from the abstract expressionists through Lucien Freud with the ambition to be an abstract painter. Upon his return to Australia he worked at more than fifty jobs to support himself before landing a teaching job at St. Patricks College in Geraldton (1976-1987). After working as a lecturer at various TAFE colleges in the Perth district (1989-1992), he became a full-time painter.

Carmelo Ortiz de Elgea: Basque Painter in Nevada

Carmelo Ortiz de Elgea is one of the most well-known painters living and working today in the Basque Country, located on the border of northern Spain and southern France. Ortiz de Elgea rose to prominence in the Basque art world of the 1970s, following the emergence of the Modern art movement, which became a galvanizing force among artists in Spain seeking a progressive alternative to the oppressive regime of General Francisco Franco.

Ortiz de Elgea was a founder of a group of artists known as Orain in the Basque province of Álava. Orain was established with a commitment to supporting aesthetic experimentation as a tool for social change during a period of extreme historical and political upheaval. Ortiz de Elgea’s work from this time combined figurative and abstract qualities; a unique blending that would continue to manifest itself throughout his career.

This exhibition includes paintings from Ortiz de Elgea’s travels to the American West in 2011, specifically northern Nevada and California. The artist was invited to the region by Bill Douglass, a scholar of Basque culture and founder of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. After visiting places like Lake Tahoe, Mount Rose, Virginia City, and Smoke Creek, he then explored the surrounding areas of California, Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico, and Utah. “I couldn’t imagine the impression such a big open space and the expanse of landscapes of virgin nature would have on me,” Ortiz de Elgea said of his travels. “I immersed myself into the magnificent landscape, revisiting it with my canvas and colors, and painting it without a moment of rest. I would have loved to live there and never leave the immense land where eyes get to see all the way to the horizon without interruption.”

While Ortiz de Elgea’s work has been shown widely in the Basque Country, this is his first exhibition in the United States.

Sponsors

Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno and the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency