It Started with Willows

CCAI Exhibition at WNC Bristlecone Gallery


CARSON CITY, Nev. — As a salute to the creativity of the Great Basin Native Artists, the Capital City Arts Initiative is excited to present It Started with Willows, an assemblage of working baskets and contemporary art.

The exhibit is open to the public September 20 – December 21, 2023, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., in Western Nevada College’s Bristlecone Gallery, 2201 W College Parkway, Carson City. The artists’ reception will take place on Tuesday, October 24, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m; the curator’s introduction is at 5:30 p.m.

CCAI’s exhibition presents contemporary paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures from the Great Basin Native Artists collective and historic working Native baskets from the Lloyd Chichester Collection.

The exhibition includes work by Ben Aleck (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe), Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva), Phil Buckheart (Absentee Shawnee/Choctaw), Loretta Burden (Fallon Paiute), Karma Henry (Fort Independence Paiute), David Ipina (Yurok), Micqaela Jones (Western Shoshone), Topaz Jones (Western Shoshone/Lummi/Kalapuya/Molalla), Kim Avanna Lawson (Northern Pauite/Tlinget), Jack Malotte (Western Shoshone/Washoe), Melissa Melero-Moose (Northern Paiute), Steve Nighthawk (Western Shoshone/Washoe/Paiute), Lyn Risling (Hupa/Karuk/Yurok), Roger Salas, (Northern Paiute), Maureen Self (Mountain Maidu), Paul Stone (Pauite/Washoe). Also included are works by teen participants from the Gathering of Native American Youth Summit.

Melero-Moose said, “By bringing the Great Basin Native Artists together in a coalition they stimulate and encourage each other’s work. I am so grateful that we have found exhibition opportunities for our art. Thank you CCAI.”

Lloyd Chichester has loaned many of his working baskets from his extension collection to the exhibit. About his basket collection, he said, “I began collecting Native American baskets when I was a 15 year-old kid. Their beauty has always intrigued me. These are all working baskets from northern Nevada and near-by California Native artists from the Washoe and Paiute tribes. Willows sustained a way of life for Native Americans for thousands of years in the Great Basin. These baskets were made for carrying babies, collecting pine nuts, catching fishes, and even toting water — all were made in the mid-twentieth century.””.

Artists who made these working baskets include: Carrie Bethel (Paiute), Enie Cornbread (Washoe), Irene Dick (Washoe), Maggie George (Washoe), Maggie James (Paiute), and Irene Dressler Dick (Washoe).

Ethnographer Terri McBride wrote the exhibition essay. She has expertise in documenting American Indian traditional and ceremonial activities. She was the owner of Community Pasts, a company specializing in Native properties, historical research, and oral histories. Terri has written articles on various topics of history and ethnography, and served as editor of video documentaries. Terri is grateful for everything she has learned about traditional foods and other materials from our region’s tribal elders.

Gisela Munzo, a Western Nevada College Latino Leadership Academy student, provided a Spanish translation of the show’s wall text.

Western Nevada College is a component of the Nevada System of Higher Education, with campuses in Carson City, Douglas County, and Fallon. CCAI is an artist-centered nonprofit organization committed to community engagement in contemporary visual arts through exhibitions, illustrated talks, arts education programs, artist residencies, and online activities.

The Initiative is funded by the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust, Nevada Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, John and Grace Nauman Foundation, Nevada Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Kaplan Family Charitable Fund, Southwest Gas Corporation Foundation, Steele & Associates LLC, and CCAI sponsors and members.

For additional information, please visit CCAI’s website at