It seems sacrilegious to say this, but I’m excited to see some of my favorite classics cut up and marked upon. It’s in the name of art for the Friends of the Truckee Library’s Altered Book Exhibit, which opens on Aug. 23 at Truckee Thursday as part of the library’s Summer of the Book initiative. Friends of the Truckee Library is encouraging our community to “re-see” a meaningful book, and create something daring, graceful, whimsical, or thought-provoking. Just imagine James Joyce’s iconic book as an actual portrait, or Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” mindbender as a visualized odyssey through time. While I’d hate to see some of my vintage hardcover beauties go under the X-ACTO knife, I see the value in sharing the love of reading this way. By exposing each other to the power of ideas and stories via art, we can ideally inspire new readers.

Across town, another repurposed art show has picked an unlikely canvas. Truckee River Winery opens its Cask As Canvas exhibit on Sunday, Aug. 12, kicking off a 10-week series that showcases what local artists can do with a 55-gallon wine barrel. The barrels, varying in age from seven to 10 years, have passed their prime for holding the local winery’s varietals. Katy Jones, Truckee River Winery’s director of sales and marketing, says Truckee River never discards old barrels. Case in point are the many casks repurposed around the winery’s outdoor seating and bocce courts: They now act as trash and recycling bins, bocce score boards, and bistro tables. Having no more space at the tasting room, the family winery decided to do something more community-focused with its repurposing by selecting 10 different artists to each paint a cask. In return, the artists get a special cask-unveiling on opening night at the winery, a weeklong exhibit space to display additional art, and a $400 gift certificate to the winery. Five of the barrels will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the artists’ charity of choice.

Tahoe City’s Kelly McElravey is the first artist to exhibit. Her cask debuts on Aug. 12, and she’s chosen a Nordic skiing theme to complement her charity of choice, the Far West Nordic Ski Education Association. McElravey is joined by Deb Rose, Larianne Thurman, David Dory, Patricia Dale, Sara L. Smith, and others to be announced.


“What a unique canvas a cask is!” says Smith, a professional artist based in Kings Beach. “I love things that have lived previous lives, and a wine barrel has its own unique, multi-layered history that is embedded, literally, into its form.”

Smith is letting the concept for her barrel develop; perhaps it will be influenced by her installation for this year’s Trails and Vistas art hike (Sept. 8 and 9).

“Our little community is bursting at the seams lately with creative, unique offerings, people, and events,” Smith says, citing the Altered Book Exhibit, new retail establishments, opportunities for public art, and new organizations offering healing art workshops for the community. “It feels as though our collective creative tide is rising, and I’m grateful to be a part of such a vibrant artistic community within a wider community that is embracing all of this spark.”

I agree. My previous DiStill Life column covered Coffeebar’s June art show incorporating another nontraditional canvas — latte foam — and a huge community focus. We’re seeing art everywhere: on Big Truck hats, on Tahoe Made T-shirts, on the side of food trucks, and inside old Streamline trailers (Sierra Nevada College’s Art Department has a mobile gallery in the works.) What unlikely canvas calls to the artist within you?

~ Comment on this column below.


  • Lis Korb

    Lis Korb is Moonshine Ink’s art columnist. She works as content manager at AdventureSmith Explorations, block prints on the side (her postcards are sold at Riverside Studios), and aspires to become a llama rancher. Visit her blog:

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    Truckee, CA 96161

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