Billboard Gallery: December 2022

Billboard Gallery: December 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 in 2022. For December, participating artists include Cesar Piedra, Fred Reid, and Payton Williams.


Location #1: Wells Avenue at the Roundabout (near the Holland Project)

Artist: Cesar Piedra
Artwork: The Beautiful Game, mixed media, 2020
Website | Instagram

Bio: Cesar Piedra is an interdisciplinary artist, born in southern California and raised in Northern Nevada. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in ceramics and a minor in art history at the University of Nevada Reno in the Spring of 2021. His art practice is informed by the rich history of Mesoamerican and Mexican-American cultures. Piedra’s mash-up of Mesoamerican and contemporary subject matter and iconography allows him to make connections to the ancestral culture of Mexico to share, critique, and explore conversations about the evolution of culture.

Artist Statement: Within my practice, I revisit the iconography and the media that I have used in the past to inform my identity, such as images and products from popular culture, fútbol (soccer), religion, and Mesoamerican art. These examples of “culture” made me feel closer to what I thought was the Mexican culture, which I had little to no exposure to, growing up in Reno Nevada. By exploring these themes through visual language I grant myself and my viewer an opportunity to critique how we are swayed by external sources to define and establish identity, for ourselves and others. Mesoamerican Art, and culture specifically the Post-Classic Mexica (Aztec) play a key role in my exploration of identity as it was a culture that for a time stood unspoiled by European influence until the late 15th century. By researching these ancestral cultures, I sought to be free from the Eurocentric perspective that I was force-fed in the American public school system. I found the lack of representation of Indigenous American cultures troubling because there is a void of knowledge about people like me. My study of the Mexica led me down a path that was rich with color, rituals, and mythology rivaling that of the Greeks and Romans. The connections made with this ancestral culture fueled my artistic process, instilling a desire to share my affinity with them by using similar color palettes, iconography, and artifacts. The Beautiful Game makes reference to the Mexica Tzompantli (skull rack) a structure that displayed the skulls of war captives and those ceremoniously sacrificed by the Mexica. This display of human skulls was a way in which the Mexica legitimized their prowess over their tributary states. I relate this to my exposure to the culture of fútbol, as the sport and its games are weaponized by its aficionados, which in turn elicit nationalistic pride and conflict amongst them. My use of materials in this piece reference the material culture of the Mexica culture and its contemporary counterpart. I weaponized the pelota (ball) with obsidian, in the same way, that Mexica warriors would their Macuahuitl (warclubs) this weapon was made to severely injure the opposing individuals on the battlefield, which would then be captured and sacrificed to the god of war Huitzilopochtli. The use of red earthenware is attributed to the terracotta used by the Mesoamerican culture to make ceramic vessels and sculptures. The concrete pedestal serves as the altar where all of these concepts come together. The presentation is inspired by the tension created before a World Cup match, where the ball sits on a pedestal and the players from both teams stand in the locker room tunnel, waiting to “battle” for 90 minutes on the pitch.

Location #2: California Avenue & Forest St

Artist: Fred Reid
Artwork: Willie Goes to Stonehenge, pastel, 1988.

About: Fred Reid is a painter, drawer, and ceramicist, and a beloved member of the UNR arts department (now retired). A fourth-generation Nevadan, Fred studied art at UNR and graduated with a BFA in ceramics in 1970. Under the mentorship of the late artist and longtime faculty member Craig Sheppard, Fred went on to become a ceramics technician, drawing teacher, and then head of the ceramics department at UNR. Now in 2022, several years after Fred’s retirement, we revisit his artwork from the 1980s made collaboratively with his daughter Sienna for the HP Billboard Gallery series.

Fred Reid’s billboard features a piece called “Willie goes to Stonehenge”, a collaborative drawing made with his then 6-year-old daughter, Sienna Reid. Sienna drew lots of horses, inspired by the horses stabled in her neighbor’s corral growing up. One winter, a particular horse, Willie, wandered onto the ice and became trapped in the frozen Truckee. Fred and the horse’s owner tried to rescue it, but Willie died on the shore. On the day of the incident, Fred was working with a white unicorn with a rainbow wing that Sienna had drawn, and that horse became Willie. Afterward, Willie went all over the world in Fred and Sienna’s imagination, doing all the things he might have wanted to if he lived. The two soon had an exhibition of this work in the Manville Gallery in 1989, a gallery no longer operates in the Unversity’s School of Medicine which was organized by a professor of the school and an avid art lover.

Location #3: Virginia Street & Cheney Street (on Recycled Records Building)

Artist: Payton Williams
Artwork: In the Grips of the Earth, cyanotype print on fabric, 2022

Bio: Payton Williams is a Reno based visual artist and student, currently working towards their BFA. Their artistic practice includes alternative process photography, textile, and graphic design, and printmaking.

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!