Erik Holland wears many hats, including inexhaustible in the field painter of Reno landscapes and landmarks, high school art teacher, hyperlocal political cartoonist, and repeated anti-sprawl mayoral candidate
On this day, Holland is wearing the Nada Dada mayor’s hat and showing off his own art in his “Muses and Music” room on the second floor of the Town House Motor Lodge.
Several of his paintings depict signs of old motels which will could soon be demolished, as rapid development takes over the Biggest Little City.
“I love architecture. I enjoy the old architecture, and the stories from inside those buildings,” he explained as the last hours of this Nada Dada concluded.
Buildings With Stories
One of his works in progress is of the Castaway Inn, where he says one of his friends was once dropped off by his mother at the age of 18, with $300 as a parting gift into the world of drifters, roaming artists, hard luck gamblers and other characters who make up a Reno motel’s long term population. His friend ended up with lots of street savvy and later two master’s degrees.
One of the founders of Nada Dada, which recently concluded its 10th anniversary, Holland was again appointed as “Dada Mayor d’Esprawlius”.
He was energized by the 15 or so new artists who joined veteran "Nadistas" showcasing art in rented out motel rooms and collective art spaces spread around downtown Reno.
Positives and Negatives
“The most positive aspect this year is the number of new artists and for them a chance to see what it’s like to show their art,” he said, in between a tv interview and a visit from potential buyers.
But he was downbeat about how some of the buildings and motels he paints could soon be on the cutting block. “So much is going on, you have to pick and choose your battles. I’d be really upset if the El Cortez Hotel went down,” he said.
Holland is also worried about those about to be displaced, including artists. “I’m not against development but I’m very sensitive to the plight of the dislocated. We have to help them and they have to help themselves. One of my main priorities now is also not to let Nada Dada down,” he concluded.
When Holland ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2006 and 2014, he envisioned an accessible artistic city with enhanced public transit connecting residents to each other and to the great outdoors. His art and the art of Nada Dada are a testament to a perpetually reborn and rebranded city, but one which could now price out the artists and vintage buildings which give it so much of its unique character.