Billboard Gallery: April 2022

Billboard Gallery: April 2022

The Holland Project’s Billboard Gallery showcases the work of exceptional emerging and established regional artists on billboards throughout Reno’s surface streets. Three new artists are installed every four weeks starting in January 2022. The April artists included Jen Graham, Austin Pratt, and Ana Perez-McKay.


#1 Location: Wells Avenue & 5th Street (visible from Wells bridge, heading North)

Artist: Jen Graham
Artwork: They Told Us We’d Have A Future #2 (Forest Fire), fabric, 2022
Website | Instagram

Bio: Jen Graham is a fiber artist from Reno, Nevada. Embracing the history of the sewing arts as a form of storytelling, recording family history, and protest, she uses traditional embroidery and sewing techniques to both reinvestigate American history and discuss current political and social issues. She has exhibited her work in both solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, including at the Nevada Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, the Muskegon Museum of Art, and the Museum Of Craft and Design.

Statement: Embracing the history of the sewing arts as a form of storytelling, recording family history, and protest, I use traditional embroidery and sewing techniques to both reinvestigate American history and discuss current political and social issues. They Told Us We’d Have A Future #2 (Forest Fire) is about the promise that was made to us by the previous generations that we could find the same success, happiness, and security that they did, but instead we are watching our futures be swallowed up by fires, floods, and immoral economic and environmental policy, among other disasters. The quilt behind the text depicts the progression of a forest fire where lush greens are overtaken by burning reds and oranges, which eventually become charred blacks, greys, and browns.

#2 Location: 4th Street & Valley Road

Artist: Austin Pratt
Artwork: BEES SEE, digital drawing, 2022
Website | Instagram

Bio: Austin Pratt lives and works in Reno, Nevada. He received an MFA in Painting+Drawing at The University of Tennessee, and a BFA in Painting & Drawing from The University of Nevada. Pratt is the recent recipient of the Nevada Arts Council Fellowship and his work was recently featured in New American Paintings publication #144, 2020. In Summer 2021, he was the Artist-in-Residence of Great Basin National Park. Pratt currently teaches Drawing at the University of Nevada, Reno, and in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts program at Sierra Nevada University at Lake Tahoe.

Statement: This work, “BEES SEE” is a new digital drawing made specifically for the Holland Project billboard series. In considering the scale and context of billboards as an image space, I thought about our expectations of outdoor messaging and advertising, and how or if I might be able to distance from any commercial or communicative angle. In mere seconds, and from great distances, billboards must be highly effective in visual transmission, and given our collective excellence in visual literacy, the interpretation of tone, character, and quality of rapid images is immediately discernible.

Beyond that, because of the significant financial entry-point of renting advertising space, our experience of this public junk mail and the visual insult of billboards in the US has the public immune to even noticing them at best, and on psychic defense from unsolicited sales at worst. Because of the cost, their promotions must be financially effective–therefore, despite our varying spectrum of media literacy, we are not expected to be surprised by these images or to be given reprieve from capitalism, much less engaged in a no-strings-attached aesthetic experience.

In considering this context, I wanted to make some work for this space as unambiguously removed from advertising as possible through a distinctly ambiguous and confusing gesture. This digital collage appropriates the strangely buzzing optical illusion known as the “Out of Focus” illusion first described by Japanese master Akiyoshi Kitaoka in 2001.

In my work as a painter, I’m interested in perception, pattern recognition, and the limits and capacities of our vision. To that end, optical illusions are a compelling phenomenon that point to our own limitations and trouble our experience and expectation of ‘truth’ in the world. Our eyes and brains consistently seek pattern and familiarity, using prior information to predict our experience. Instead of what we might believe to be pure intake or data collection into our eyes, there is just as much unconscious projection onto the world as there is new sensory input, if not more so.

Behind these buzzing illusions, shaped and arranged here like silly shimmering flowers, this drawing also plays with the “armature”, or hidden substructure of the image format and picture plane that artists use in composing images, whether paintings, photos, or cinema. This lattice of lines – vertical, horizontal, and diagonal are found by dividing the image into fractions and playing off of significant intersections to calculate more intentionally arranged compositions. This combination of hidden art math and obnoxious optical illusion create an image that refers to seeing itself.

This work, up through the month of April 2022 is otherwise a fun, pretty drawing imagining the inner experience of our bee friends pollinating our flower friends this spring in Northern Nevada. 

Thank you Holland Project.

#3 Location: Wells Avenue & Vesta Street

Artist: Ana Perez-McKay
Artwork: Dreamhouse, new and found textile, thread, yarn, wood, light, glossy vinyl, 2022
Website | Instagram

Bio: Local artist Ana Perez-McKay is a BFA candidate in Printmaking at the University of Nevada, Reno, working in print, textile, and multimedia narrative illustration. Dreamhouse marks Ana’s third solo exhibition. Ana’s work has appeared in over a dozen group shows locally and in print publications including Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal, Wizards In Space Magazine, and DIY Space for London’s Pink Zine. Ana has also been a member of the Holland Project gallery committee, curated small shows, been a vendor at numerous craft fairs, created artwork for musicians, and is currently interning at Laika Press.

The HP Billboard Gallery was made possible by an Art Belongs Here Grant from the City of Reno Arts & Culture Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, generous donations from supporters like Temple Builders LLC, Brooks Family Dental, and Sierra Hearing Center, as well as the support and guidance of our partners with the Wells Ave. Merchants Association and Lamar Outdoor Advertising. Thank you!