Explore Northern Nevada’s outdoor art walks, murals and sculptures this spring

By Annie Flanzraich

When the weather turns warm in Northern Nevada, all I want to do is spend as much time as possible outdoors while enjoying the fresh-smelling air and radiant sun. Now, there are many ways to do this — hiking, spending time at the dog park with my reluctant schnauzer, brunching on patios or simply sipping a cup of coffee on an Adirondack chair. But, I think the best way to experience the glory of temperate weather is by pairing it with art. Luckily, there’s a host of ways to pair the two. Here are some of my favorites.

Art In The Great Outdoors (Jeramie Lu)
Art In The Great Outdoors (Jeramie Lu)

Go For A Walk

With more than 185 public art pieces in Reno, it’s hard to miss a mural or sculpture while out for a stroll. Make seeing art the intention of your walk with some professionally led and self-guided tours with Art Walk Reno. This organization provides information and tours for several experiences, including:

Reno’s Playa Art Trail: As the gateway to Burning Man, Reno’s large collection of public art includes many permanent pieces that had a temporary home at the event in the Black Rock Desert. To experience a bit of the BRC in the BLC, check out a list of the local pieces at artspotreno.com.

Looking for a place to start? The Reno Playa Art Park in downtown Reno features smaller interactive sculptures from Burning Man.

Art Walk: See the works of local and regional artists on display in venues within the Arts District, between Liberty Street and Second Street, and Virginia Street and Arlington Avenue from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month.

Downtown Reno Mural & Public Art Tour: Downtown Reno features 40 murals painted by local, national and internationally recognized artists. See them all via a self-guided tour using the Art Spot Reno map. It’ll take about two hours at a leisurely pace, so bring your walking shoes. Or, book a docent tour for a group of six or more for $10 per person.

Midtown Mural Tour: A bit south of Downtown is Midtown, and that’s where you can find more than 60 murals on display. You can explore at your own pace or participate in a docent tour, which is available at 11 a.m. the second Saturday of each month. The tour starts at Blue Whale Coffee Company. Cost is $10 per person.

Midtown Murals (Jeramie Lu)
Midtown Murals (Jeramie Lu)

Magic Mountains Majesty

While Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains rises above the desert south of Las Vegas, visitors in Northern Nevada can learn about the large-scale, site-specific public artwork at the Nevada Museum of Art. See photos of the colorful towers and explore artifacts about its creation on the museum’s second floor through May 11. nevadaart.org

Rotating Sculptures

Where the Truckee River meets downtown Reno, you can find a permanent sculpture garden in Bicentennial Park. The park, created by the city of Reno and the Rotary Club of Reno, displays a rotating outdoor exhibition of sculptures. The pieces change every 12 months, so there’s always a new one to see.

Down By The River

Art In The Great Outdoors (Jeramie Lu)
Art In The Great Outdoors (Jeramie Lu)

Head down to Dickerson Road to explore artists’ studios and create your own masterpieces. Reno’s Industrial Arts District is located on Second Street — just keep going west beyond Keystone Avenue. On it, you’ll find a variety of shops and studios including Boho Gypsy’s Treasures, CoAuto (yes, it’s an auto repair and service shop with a local artist display), Infinity Forge, Reno Art Works, Rhodes Designs, Sierra Water Gardens, Strange Bikinis, Studio 2035, The Nest, The Wedge Ceramics Studio and more. Finish your day of exploring with a meal at Oxbow Cafe & Bistro (aim for a Friday or Saturday night, when you can order the prime rib special).

Make It An Event

Celebrate and explore the arts outdoors during one of Reno’s seasonal events. From May 11 – 13, check out Reno Sculpture Fest, which brings together 6- to 14-foot-tall interactive sculptures, vendors, food, and wine in downtown Reno. Come July, mark your calendar for Artown, the city’s annual, month-long summer arts festival, featuring more than 500 events produced by more than 100 organizations and businesses in nearly 100 locations citywide.renosculpturefest.com; renoisartown.com

Create your own art trail by checking out the numerous galleries and murals in the state’s capital.

The Carson Experience

Travel south from Reno for about 30 minutes, and there’s a whole other art scene to explore in Carson City. Create your own art trail by checking out the numerous galleries and murals in the state’s capital. Or visit the beautiful Carson Valley to discover a gallery tour around main streets. For a calendar of upcoming exhibits, check out Carson Valley Arts Council. visitcarsoncity.com/galleries; cvartscouncil.com

There’s no need to choose between the beautiful outdoors and exploring the Northern Nevada art scene. Just grab some sunblock, comfy shoes and a map (or smartphone) to see what the region has to offer.