By Samantha Johnson
Since 2006 The Holland Project in Reno has been a center for young artists and musicians to learn and create. Hosting over 150 all-ages events every year, the venue has served the art community as a space of opportunity, but at the beginning of this year it faced a daunting obstacle. The rent was due to increase by almost double and The Holland Project had only two options: raise the money to buy the building or clear out.
After various pushes for fundraising with programs and shows like the Reno Instagrammys, The Holland Project finally received the last $1,000 to ground them in their space on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Britt Curtis, the director of the Holland Project, said it was an exciting moment for everyone.
“It was really powerful,” Curtis said. “The fact that our community’s major philanthropists saw value in Holland was a really amazing testament to the young people here and to Reno’s all-ages community.”
Curtis has been involved with The Holland Project since its sister venue, The Vera Project, began in Seattle. She said she was amazed at how far the organization had come in this year alone and didn’t expect to purchase the space for another 10 or 15 years. Now that The Holland Project has laid down its roots, Curtis noted there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“It’s an old building, but we love it and it’s our home,” Curtis said. “We feel really confident that it’ll always be a place that’s shaping and changing and reflecting who is going there and who is making [it] what it is.”
Next on Curtis’ list are repairing the building to sustain it for another 30 years, such as fixing the roof, electrical rewiring and coming up with new self-sustaining programs to protect The Holland Project as the economy changes. Curtis said the venue will always be a work in progress but that she is very proud to be a part of it for every step of the way.
“Every week there is something I’m impressed by,” Curtis said. “The resilience and pioneering spirit that I get to see every day has changed who I am forever.”
Some artists say that the experience that The Holland Project offers is invaluable. For sculptor and installation artist Häsler Goméz, whose work is currently on display there, the opportunity to practice art has changed his life as well.
Goméz’s gallery, called “The University of the Waves,” opened on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at The Holland Project. It features the idea that people are in control of their own destinies through installation art and conveys the uncertainty of life. Goméz sent in the application for his exhibition during the summer and was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere of the organization.
“They really made it a comfortable experience,” Goméz said. “It’s a unique thing that we have here. In other cities it’s really tough. You’re either really lucky, or you have to work your way up.”
Goméz said The Holland Project is good for the art community because there aren’t any political maneuvers young artists have to take before getting approved for a gallery. While other commercial venues might look down on it, he said The Holland Project is a great way for them to get experience they wouldn’t have otherwise in the art world.
“They’re here to stay,” Goméz said. “Now that they’re grounded I think that greater art community can begin to take them more seriously.”
Goméz’s show is running from now until Friday, Dec. 4, and he said he is definitely going back for another show if the opportunity arises.
“You have to check it out,” Goméz said. “Yeah, you can go to other places, but it’s not the same energy. There’s a liveliness there. I feel it’s kind of void in the art community in general, it’s usually very austere, but they’re really excited about art and that’s important.”
For more information on upcoming shows from The Holland Project, visit www.hollandreno.org.
To check out Häsler Goméz’s work, follow his Instagram @zemogrrelsah.
Samantha Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SamRayJohnson.