Reno's Public Art: 'Beauty In The Eye Of The Beholder'

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While Reno's 100 or more public art displays are meant to be enjoyed by the public, not everyone seems to appreciate the latest art installation headed to our area.

A ten-foot, rainbow-colored statue of a man playing an accordion is set to be placed amidst the wildlife at popular local park, Virginia Lake. But after public outcry, the city is now re-thinking that decision.

Pittsburgh artist, James Simon created the piece, featuring a musician and his dog. Members of the Public Art Committee and Arts and Culture Commission gave it their seal of approval. The piece is set for placement on the South side of Virginia Lake, in an empty viewing point, easy for anyone walking by to see...whether they like it or not.

These are reactions from locals walking near the park after they saw a photo of the proposed piece:

"What is that? A dog?"

"Oh fun, I like it. It's got a sense of fun to it."

"I think the accordion is a little sad and the way his head is turned is a little discouraging."

"It's different. I love it. I love how his head is cocked. Contemplative."

"What is that thing in the first place? That's what I want to know."

And that's exactly why they say 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'
The City's Public Art Specialist, Stacey Spain says there are four other alternatives to the proposed art piece, including one by the same artist, but this time the dog is the focus.

Three other artists from California also have these offerings: A giant steel burrow squirrel, a bronze abstract sculpture that's meant to play off the shapes of the trees, or a colorful steel curly-cue figure.

Spain says like all of the public art you see around town, these finalists went through a process. She says those artists chosen have a track record of creating pieces of measurable size and scope, and whichever one makes it through could be around for at least a quarter of a century.

"What we like to say is, you may not love everything in our collection. There may be some things you don't like, but there will be something you love. And hopefully, if we're doing our job right we can educate folks, let them know why something was chosen," said Spain.

All five of the pieces will run the city about $67,000 dollars that will come from capital improvement funds and grants. The city says seven local artists were also in the running, but their art pieces did not make it through the final process.

Only one of three things will happen: the accordion and dog statue will be constructed, one of the other four choices will be constructed, or none of them will make the cut and the city will then have to go back to square one.

If you'd like to be a part of the decision, there will be at least two more public meetings about this particular project. You can find out more at