Billboard Gallery: January 2024

Billboard Gallery: January 2024

The Holland Project’s Billboard Gallery showcases the work of exceptional emerging and established regional artists on billboards throughout Reno-Sparks. Three new artists are installed every four weeks. For our first series in 2024, participating artists are Roman de Salvo, Chelsea Houston, and David Delfin.


Location #1: Liberty St at Sierra St

Artist: Roman de Salvo
Artwork: Charge, photograph/digital montage, 2023

Bio: Roman de Salvo is a sculptor and public artist who works with ordinary materials in everyday contexts. His work often involves energetic phenomena, such as wind, water, fire, electricity, and audience participation, as well as elements of intrigue and surprise. Since 2005, de Salvo has been making large-scale works for public parks, such as The Riparium, an expansive gateway structure for Ruocco Park in downtown San Diego, and Fountain Mountain at Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego County. Noteworthy exhibitions in which de Salvo’s work has been featured include the 2000 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the 2002 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, American Idyll for the Public Art Fund in New York, Baja to Vancouver: The West Coast in Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum, Insite 2000 in Tijuana, Mexico, and Giverny Garden Projects at the Musée d’Art Américain, Giverny, France. Born in San Francisco in 1965 and raised in Reno, de Salvo received the B.F.A. in Sculpture in 1990 from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland and the M.F.A. in Visual Arts in 1995 from the University of California, San Diego. He has been affiliated with the UNR Lake Tahoe Low Residency MFA-IA since 2016. In 2022, he relocated back to his home town of Reno.

Statement: Anything on a billboard will be presumed to be an advertisement of some sort, right? Why fight it? I should utilize the opportunity to advocate for something I care about! Yet, effective advertising to passing motorists demands bold fonts, clean graphics, provocative images and immediately grasped messages. Alas, clear communication through the language of commercial advertising isn’t my specialty. I find myself more interested in the cinematic proportions of the billboard itself. They speak to a different calling. I think of the wide landscapes of iconic Westerns and the realms of my outdoor adventures.

So I went to this particular landscape—remarkably within the city limits of Reno—where I could act in a sort of Western of my own. I brought a pair of flags with which to make my statement using the cryptic signaling system of naval and scouting contexts known as flag semaphore. I thought a lot about what to say. The chosen statement came to mind as a characterization of how I go about my projects. For those inclined to decipher the semaphore, I hope the words congratulate as they turn your imagination toward what they advocate.

Location #2: Virginia Street (above Jelly Donut)

Artist: Chelsea Houston
Artwork: Skull Pile Blue, acrylic and charcoal, 2022
Website | Instagram

Bio: Chelsea Houston is a Reno-based artist, born in Maui, and has called many western states home. Primarily a painter, she often weaves elements of illustration and printmaking into her pieces. Human and fauna forms strike her most, both living and post-mortem: portraiture, skeletal studies, and captures of anatomy.  

Travels and transplanting have shaped her affinity for life cycles and the stories within each living thing, from the common to the extraordinary. She is inspired by texture, dimension, and all that glitters.

Statement: What happens when we go? Whether to sleep or to die or to simply be still? Does our space become us or vice versa? Are we changed by our environment or do we acquiesce and join it in all its forces and mysteries? Decomposition and new growth cycles inspired the gathering of passed cow skulls you see, horned and bare-capped. Environment– nature, elements, place itself– all play a role in the turning of life and death, symbolized with color and texture. As iconography of the West, cow skulls foster a sense of memory (your own or not) or longing. The feeling of openness, promise, roaming.

Cows gather together in life, have deep relationships and feelings– it’s widely-known (and treasured) that cows even have best friends. Does this change when hearts cease beating or do these partnered kine simply stay and become a new fixture of the space in which they stopped?

The drift between space, relationships, and years collided into the sky blue starstuff that inspired the kine in these works, still living in their own way, if not contributing more earnestly to the earth upon which they grazed.

Location #3: 4th Street at I-580 (just before Casale’s Halfway Club)

Artist: David Delfin
Artwork: Salted Butter Ad, mixed media, 2023
Website | Instagram

Bio: Born and raised Nevadan, David Delfin is a sculpture and digital media artist based out of Reno, Nevada. While attending the University of Nevada, Reno, David studied Sculpture in the Bachelor’s of Fine Arts program and Visual Communication through the Reynold’s School of Journalism.
Statement: Honesty in material creates the most truthful advertisement. Experimenting and learning new ways of making is always a motivating experience. During quarantine over three years ago, I briefly resorted to making work out of the materials and ingredients I had readily available in my apartment. I opened up my fridge to find a warm glowing light shining upon my sticks of salted butter. Grab your toasted buns because you butter be ready for what’s cooking.