Our community is always in a flux of inspiration (e.g., our IRONMAN athletes), stoke (snow, sun, our beautiful lake), support (fighting wildfires, search and rescue efforts), and love for the people and places that surround us. Art is a reflection of these emotions, as canvases provide an outlet for the inner workings of our minds. I’m excited to share three artistic endeavors this month that illustrate the environment, spirit, and people that are Tahoe/Truckee: 

Tahoe Artist Phyllis Shafer at Reno’s Stremmel Gallery
I am completely in awe of Phyllis Shafer’s work. The movement, the way she captures the vibrancy of a landscape, is stunning. Clouds swirl, sagebrush dances, rivers and lakes reflect the rhythm around them; they are truly animated landscapes. I’ve been a huge fan of her plein air paintings for years, and her upcoming Stremmel Gallery exhibition, “Beneath One Sky,” running through Nov. 9, is a must-see. Portraying Sierra Nevada landscapes from her home in South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite to the Nevada desert, you’ll recognize the vistas and see them in a whole new light through this artist’s energetic brush. This exhibition is a preamble to Shafer’s February 2014 Nevada Museum of Art show.

‘Truckee People — Portraits of a Community’ at the Rec Center
The Truckee Public Art Commission presents this art installation at the Truckee Donner Rec and Park Community Recreation Center to showcase portraits of all mediums: photography, drawing, painting, collage, print, and sculpture. Featuring portraits and self-portraits of a community, by the community, and for the community, the exhibit will be like a café of familiar faces.

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“Portraits are approachable,” says Truckee Public Art Commission Board Chair Sue Duerksen, explaining that they chose the exhibit theme because it’s something nearly everyone can participate in. Some 25 artists will display work at the show; be sure to look for the self-portrait sculpture by local blacksmith Josef Standteiner. The exhibit runs Oct. 11 through Jan. 24, with the opening reception on Friday, Oct. 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. A silent auction at the opening includes artwork from the Artisan’s Workshop, Chris Crossen, Carla Stokes, Danae Anderson, Carol Tomasic, Carole Sesko, Pam McAdoo, and other artists.

Glenshire Elementary’s New Mural
Glenshire Elementary students have a new view from their playground. Truckee artist Patricia Dale has rendered a panorama of the Tahoe Basin on a west-facing 86-foot concrete wall at the school. Giving students a bird’s eye view of the landscape from Lake Tahoe to Glenshire to Murphy’s Meadow, the mural’s sweeping vista was inspired by photos Dale snapped atop Martis Peak Fire Lookout, and by her experience riding over the Basin in a friend’s Piper Cub plane, which is also painted in the mural.

“I wanted kids to know about the topography where they live, but I also wanted to make it into a game,” Dale said. Students can hit points on the map, like Donner Lake, Mt. Lassen, and Castle Peak, with a snowball, beanbag, or ball, and then tally up their scores. “I’ve gotten great feedback from kids,” Dale said. “They say, ‘I want to be an artist just like you,’ or ‘Would you put in a rabbit for me, or some coyotes?’ and I always do.”

Look close among the pines, boulders, and sagebrush at the base of the mural and you’ll see just that: creatures of the Tahoe forest, many requested by Glenshire Elementary students.

~ What other local art pieces depict the essence of our community? Comment on this column below.