The Art of Ben Aleck

Barbara and Tad Danz Gallery | Floor 3

This solo exhibition features the paintings, drawings, and mixed-media work of Ben Aleck. Ben Aleck was born in Reno, Nevada in 1949. He was raised by his mother Vira Aleck Quartz and stepfather Roland Quartz on the Reno Sparks Indian Colony with his older siblings Mona Aleck and John Aleck, and his step siblings Nelson Quartz, Susan Quartz, Joey Quartz, Burnell Quartz, and twins Mike Quartz and Mark Quartz. During middle school and high school, Aleck was part of the Upward Bound Program and was invited to take art classes at the University of Nevada, Reno. As a student at Wooster High School, he enjoyed art classes thanks to two very supportive art teachers, while also playing on the basketball team.

After graduating in 1968, Aleck attended the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) in Oakland, California, where he had a studio off Broadway Avenue with a view of San Francisco from his window. During his time in the San Francisco Bay Area, he witnessed the politics and protests of the Vietnam War era and countercultural Hippie movement. He also became involved with the American Indian Movement (AIM) and participated in the American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from CCAC in 1972. Following college, Aleck lived in Supai, Arizona, where he worked in elementary school education on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. In the 1990s, he lived for a short time in Mobridge, South Dakota on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Aleck has always been dedicated to education and upon his return to Northern Nevada he completed a large mural in the gymnasium at Natchez Elementary School in Wadsworth, as well as a mural he completed with high school students at Pyramid Lake High School in Nixon, Nevada. Aleck worked as the collections manager of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Museum and Visitors’ Center. Alongside Ralph Burns, a Northern Paiute Elder, the pair greeted thousands of visitors to Pyramid Lake, sharing the history, culture, and contemporary perspectives of the Northern Paiute people.

Over the years, Aleck has contributed his knowledge to other organizations in his role as a co-curator of the exhibitions Under One Sky at the Nevada State Museum and The Way We Live: American Indian Art of the Great Basin at the Nevada Museum of Art. Aleck was also a valued speaker and participant at the inaugural Art + Environment Conference of the Nevada Museum of Art in 2008. He is a founding member of the Great Basin Native Artists and has shown his work regularly in exhibitions at galleries and museums throughout the American West. His artwork is in the permanent collections of the Nevada Museum of Art and the Nevada State Museum. Aleck is an enrolled member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a book with an essay by Melissa Melero-Moose.


Sandy Raffealli | Bill Pearce Motors
The Phil and Jennifer Satre Family Fund at the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada
Six Talents Foundation

Supporting Sponsors

Carole Anderson

Additional Support

Kathie Bartlett
Nevada Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities
Sylvia and Jim Thacker