Homebodies no. 15 – Brett Van Hoesen

Homebodies no. 15 – Brett Van Hoesen

The Homebodies series explores the 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.

Former art and art history students of the University of Nevada, Reno will definitely know our next tour guide and the incredible impacts she’s had on young Reno artists – Brett Van Hoesen. Her collection is full of treasures from current and former UNR students, international works, as well as a few gems from Holland Project shows you might recognize. And every piece has a story, we love to see it! Big thanks to Brett for letting us peek inside this wonderful collection.

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1. My study. I spend a lot of time these days in my study at home – a small room that is filled with books, jewelry making materials, and other treasures. These two works, one an old favorite by Alisha Funkhouser and the other a new purchase from Vogue Robinson, make the space feel fresh and joyful. Vogue’s work is titled “Happy Accident.” She included a really sweet message when she sent the work last month: “So don’t be afraid to make mistakes and give yourself as much grace as you give your students. <3” I love that. Alisha’s work, which I purchased at one of Holland’s All In shows, incorporates a 70s’ style weaving with a vintage photograph of an alligator on a slide in St. Augustine, Florida. As a young kid growing up in Boston, I loved the stories of Lyle the Crocodile. This work reminds me of Lyle, a fantastic character who gets into all sorts of trouble. 

2. In 2019, I was honored with a teaching award from Nevada Humanities. As part of the award, I received this beautiful mixed media painting by Fawn Douglas. Featuring three big horn sheep, it is titled The Children Will Lead Them. The figurative sculpture is by Hanna Damasio, a neuroscientist and former colleague of my dad’s at the University of Iowa. There’s also a sweet little work in a red frame by Michelle Lassaline.

3. On a shelf in my bedroom. In 2005, I went to a performance by Jimmie Durham in Berlin, Germany. It wasn’t well attended and was sort of a mysterious experience. At the beginning of the 30-minute-long performance, he walked around the audience with a trash bag of objects and asked us to each pick one. The theatre was dark, so you didn’t really get a sense of what you had selected. We held the objects in our laps for the duration of the performance not knowing what role they might play. It was nerve wracking. At the end, Durham left the stage and disappeared. The audience waited and then we eventually walked out with our gifts.

4. Hallway. Painting by Mose Tolliver and our cat Pearl. It’s a long story, but in short, this work was gifted to me likely because the signature is screwed up. Normally Mose signed his work MOSET – a play on Monet. I met the artist and his girlfriend, depicted here, in the early 1990s at his house in Montgomery, Alabama. I think this is the first original work of art I ever owned.

5. Family room. The drawing above our fireplace is by Kim Musser. I served on her MFA committee at UNR. She surprised me one day with this generous gift and it has hung here ever since. I love the rhythm of this piece.

6. The hearth/hutch. The framed embroidered cactus is by Kaitlin Bryson. (Also purchased at an All In show.) There’s also artwork by my kids, vintage coasters from Germany, and some favorite ceramic pieces including a vase by Casey Clark and a cup by Aby Henry.

7. Living room. In this corner are three works by Nate Clark when his studio was at Cuddleworks. I especially love the “pocket of air.” There’s also a photo diptych by Stephen Perkins, a grad school colleague from Iowa, which features his young daughter blowing a bubble and a close-up of Arman’s pocket watch sculpture. There are also two small wood-mounted photographs of Berlin street scenes that I bought at the Mauerpark flea market, which make me nostalgic for the years I lived in Germany.

8. On the way to the kitchen. This wall features an eclectic group of small works from Mexico, Ecuador, Luxemburg, Turkey, etc. Most were gifts from family and friends. My mother-in-law, who is from Quito, Ecuador, gave us this framed set of hand-painted tiles (top right) that depict the dress and style of indigenous people from her homeland. These tiles were a gift from her uncle before she left Ecuador for the United States in the late 1950s. All four tiles are signed – I need to do more research on them.

9. The eclectic collection of small work continues on this wall with a favorite hand-printed thank you card from my dear friend and colleague, Eunkang Koh. I wrote a letter supporting her green card application, before she became a United States citizen, in which I had to confirm her status as “an alien of extraordinary ability.” I love how Eunkang interprets this bizarre nomenclature.

10. Hallway. This is Ashley Westwood’s Intruder, a watercolor from her 2016 Holland exhibit Shadows in My House. It looks especially ethereal in this space thanks to the vintage chandelier light fixtures we inherited from the previous homeowner.

11. Desk in my study. I have an array of works on paper/special issue projects that live together in this room. This batch includes:  Berlin-based friend April Gertler’s Damp Patches, Sophie Calle’s My All, Hanna Kaplan and Omar Pierce’s Ritual Landscape II, A Clear Horse, Devin Hosselkus’ Expectations, Nick Larsen’s Belongings, Nick, Omar, and Tim Conder’s Oats Park Art Center exhibit catalogue “I Wonder If I Care as Much,” HT MacDiarmid’s “Every Movement . . .,” Omar and Ashley’s “In a Broken World” publication, Spitting Image’s “Love on a Terror” 7” EP, David Hecht’s Scams (1982), etc. My admiration for this kind of work speaks, in a way, to how I got into Art History in the first place by researching the Berlin-based, WWI-era Malik Verlag’s small-run publications by George Grosz, John Heartfield, and Wieland Herzfelde. Reconnecting with my own collection gets me thinking about new ideas for my seminar on “Dada and the Anti-Art Aesthetic,” which I will teach again at UNR in Fall 2021. Holland Project, thank you for all that you inspire!