Homebodies no. 6 – Erica Wirthlin

Homebodies no. 6 – Erica Wirthlin

For the series Homebodies, we will explore the more personal spaces of community members, the artworks and interesting objects they’ve collected through the years, and how those pieces live with them every day. Here we have a look at the collection of Erica Wirthlin, who started collecting works by local artists just over 10 years ago. Below, Erica shows us favorite pieces (including the first work she ever bought) and the stories they tell.

1. An ad hoc collection of art, a signed poster from Willy Vlautin, and cookbooks sit on top of a piano acquired by my boyfriend from his sister’s ex-husband’s dad, who happens to live up the street. There is a certain amount of “trashiness” that comes up around Nevada, and I feel like this collection embraces that. Being a Nevadan is a lot of defying outsider’s expectations, whether it is in the art scene or more generally speaking. 

2. Here, artist Sophia Pierce depicts Anthony Kiedis as a cowboy with the words, “Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a pardner.” Have you ever seen something that made you laugh and feel horribly sad at the same time?

3. A Denali Lowder ceramic with plastic bag gives thanks. It sits next to a cactus, which was the first Valentine’s gift I gave to my boyfriend of now six years. 

4. This seahorse painted onto found wood made me think of Nevada’s ancient sea – it is so delicate and fossil-like. The artist, Erica Greif, tragically left this world too soon. Her work touched a lot on nature in this tender way, and it means so much to be reminded of how fragile this life is. 

5. This is a small painting (on the left) from Ron Rash I nabbed from a Rogue art + Craft Fair, two small pieces my friend Allana Noyes brought back from Mexico, and an old Holland Project Showprint that I adore. 

(center) 6. Over the years I have amassed a collection that hits hard on the themes of the desert, Nevada, and home. It was never intentional, but when I took a step back and looked at what I had, it became clear that this was the unifying subject between all my pieces.

7. This print from Casey Conrad was actually a test print for a submission he sent to a Holland ALL IN fundraiser. Someone beat me to the purchase of his piece, but when I expressed how much I loved it, he just sent me this extra print out of the blue. The artists from around here have always been so generous in a way that feels rare. 

8. This looked like something that could have been taken at Newlands Park, which is why I loved it. It came from Denali Lowder’s solo show Tree of Heaven, 2017. 

9. This was a really early purchase for me from Record Street Bibo. It is this amazing strip of film from Megan Kay that perfectly sums up downtown Reno. It feels bizarre and inviting at the same time.

10. This window is always bathed in light, which is perfectly suited for Michelle Laxalt’s ceramic, Ashley Westwood’s skinned coyote, and Summer Orr’s PussycatNV ceramic. These little pieces are powerful in their subtly! 

11+13. I have many of Omar Pierce’s zines, but I was really happy he let me buy a few pieces from his show Ritual Landscape II with Hanna Kaplan to hang. The one above Michelle’s piece is of the Sparks Drive-In – I always thought it had kind of a Heatmiser vibe as well. The one below is a rainy shot of downtown taken from the old Record Street Bibo parking lot (RIP).

12.  I’m not sure where it all started, but this piece from Michelle Lassaline may have been my first art purchase from around 2009. The phrase written in pencil says, “From up here, the desert never ends.” She so wonderfully captured this feeling you get when you are climbing around Peavine Peak, and I had to have it. 

14. My most recent piece is from Austin Pratt. It is said that this goat’s head thorn works as a protective spirit – a bit of a twist since these thorns are the little devils that give your bike a flat!

15. This poster is from Summer Orr’s interactive installation, Graveyard. I haven’t been able to properly frame it yet, but it sits perfectly in my window that looks out to Peavine Peak in the distance. 

16. This is a special piece by Nick Larsen that was part of the collaborative show I Wonder If I Care as Much with Omar Pierce and Tim Conder, 2015-2016. It is just one section from a huge installation. The stitching under the button reads “HORSE HEAVEN.” To me, Nick expressed how we all carry these intimate topographies inside us. Horse Heaven is a real place in Nevada, and yet it also describes a lot of the hope and despair people feel when they live here.

17. This striking drawing comes from Troy Ayala’s HPHQ show Scatter Brain, 2011. Like many of these earlier pieces, it has moved with me throughout the past decade and has sustained some wear and tear. I like that the frame is chipped and tells that story. It doesn’t feel like home until I am surrounded by these familiar friends. 

18. Amy Aramanda’s tissue box and Felica Perez’s chair were acquired four years apart, but now they are an inseparable pair. They speak a lot to vulnerability and resilience, which is maybe why they live with books that often share these themes.