DiStill Life

Only a month ago I considered Riverside Studios synonymous with Brickelltown, the cluster of quaint shops just west of Commercial Row in Truckee. The art studio and gallery run by ceramicist Alanna Hughes and leatherworker Kahlil Johnson seemed hopping when you’d stop by for a First Friday art opening, or party in the courtyard it shared with the Feather’s Edge, Drake and Lulu’s, and Fair and Green (before it closed this past February).

But last month, everything changed. The Feather’s Edge announced it was relocating to Bend, Ore., and Riverside Studios jumped east to downtown Truckee’s main strip, taking on three new business partners with the move: jewelry designers Mary Buchan Guerra and Sondrea Larsen, and clothing designer Heather River.


The move (the gallery’s third in eight years) takes Riverside from 1,000 to 750 square feet. The space no longer doubles as working studios for Hughes and Johnson, and they said goodbye to their homey courtyard that was central to many of the former art openings and events. While I, as a patron, lament the venue change, Hughes, who helped found Riverside in 2002, says it’s the new site’s location that prompted the move.

‘To be honest, it was hard to make a living in Brickelltown,’ she says. ‘We have such a great local following, but the foot traffic just wasn’t enough for us.’

They’ll have to work a little harder to keep that homegrown, handmade vibe that felt so organic in the old location, but Hughes assures that it’s a priority. All five partners work the shop’s register, so visitors are always greeted by an artist. During Truckee Thursdays, Riverside sets up art demos outside the new shop, and they also plan to have photography of each artist at work on the gallery walls so that shoppers can further grasp that each piece is handmade locally. The popular First Fridays will continue to kick off rotating month-long art exhibits. July’s featured artist is painter Sue Duerksen.

‘Change is invigorating,’ says Hughes. ‘We are super excited to be downtown; it feels like a little city! And joining forces with these other amazing artists is really great as we can inspire each other and still have diversity since our art and styles are so different from each other. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a living as artists in this community.’

~ Keep up with Lis and her coverage of the arts at blanksmith.com.


A Warm Welcome Goes To…
Here’s who is joining the ranks of the ever-popular Riverside Studios duo of Alanna Hughes, ceramicist, and Kahlil Johnson, creator of leather goods (look for her new animal-inspired purses and wallets at the new downtown gallery space).

Heather River
STATS: You’ll recognize this Sebastopol native from her former Brickelltown shop, Drake and Lulu’s. Her latest creative venture is Orland Boot and Shoe, inspired by her eight-week-old son Orland.
MAKES: clothing, handbags, children’s shoes, and accessories
HER ART IN 3 WORDS: repurposed, unique, functional

Sondrea Larsen
STATS: A fresh face to the local arts scene, Larsen comes to Tahoe from San Francisco, where she attended the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts.
MAKES: argentium silver, gold, and steel rings, earrings, bracelets, and pendants
HER ART IN 3 WORDS: natural, delicate, fresh

Mary Buchan Guerra of Buchan Jewelry, buchanjewelry.com
STATS: This renowned jewelry designer is a 13-year Truckee resident. Her jewelry borders so much on art that it’s featured at the Nevada Museum of Art store in Reno.
MAKES: earrings, necklaces, and bracelets roller-printed with original artwork, often paired with semiprecious stones
HER ART IN 3 WORDS: organic, rustic, custom



  • 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: blanksmith.com.

    Connect with Lis

    M-Tu, Th-Fr 9:30am - 6pm
    10317 Riverside Dr
    Truckee, CA 96161

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