During the recent Nada Dada, a yearly Reno tradition when local artists rent out motel rooms to display their art from there, painter Chad Galloway was in familiar surroundings: a cramped room of the Town House Motor Lodge on W. 2nd street where he’s been living for the past five years.
For Chad, it makes sense to be a “Nadaist”, even if some years bring more visitors and more sales than others.
“It’s a pretty good idea,” Chad said on a recent morning from inside his motel room, shades drawn, his paintings intricately filling up entire walls. “It’s real good for those of us who aren’t in gallery spaces to show what we can do.”
A Broken Car
Chad, an Indianapolis native, was driving through Reno in 2007 when his car broke down. He’s been living in the Biggest Little City ever since, and never got another car. He walks to work -- a nearby maintenance engineering job on the graveyard shift, to do his laundry, and up to a mile to go grocery shopping. “It’s good for my health to walk around,” he says.
After deciding to stay in Reno, Chad became an avid photographer taking city shots, before turning to painting two summers ago. “I was going to art galleries, and I saw a lot of other people’s stuff and I was like I can do that.”
A Self-Taught Painter
His first painting was on cardboard. He watched YouTube tutorials to get tips. “It’s cheaper than going to classes,” he says.
Working with acrylics, oil, spray paint and enamel, he says “it’s fun creatively. I’m just getting started. It’s also a good stress reliever. It relaxes me”
He especially likes to paint mornings after his shift is over, or late at night and into early morning hours when he’s off. To get in the painting groove, he puts on his headphones and listens to “anything but hip-hop. I block out the world,” he says.
An Uncertain Living Space
Chad's current living arrangement may soon come crashing down though.
If plans to rebuild the entire West Second Street District were to go ahead, Chad says the motel he’s living in could be the first structure to be demolished.
“This would be where it starts at. They can’t tear down the El Cortez (across the way) and they can’t tear down the church (across the street) because those are both historical. It would be starting from this way out. The Greyhound bus station right by would also go.”
Chad says he understands all cities need to grow, but he still has some concerns.
“Some of the abandoned motels need to go. But for the ones still operating it’s going to be hard on the people living there, like the elderly, and your fixed-income people and your druggies.”
Not an Empty Space
Chad doesn’t like the term ‘empty space’ which is sometimes used to describe his neighborhood.
“It’s not empty space,” he says. “There are people living here, and you’ve got small businesses. I just don’t like that term.”
He knows there are problems though. One Nada Dada artist who stayed at the Motor Lodge for the first time in June complained of waking up with his arm full of bites.
Police and Crazies
“There’s problems here,” Chad says. “If we don’t see the police, it’s not an ordinary day. Police are here a lot. We have a lot of crazies here.”
Chad says most people stay here because it’s fairly affordable and convenient. He says most long term residents pay between $500 and $600 a month. He prefers to pay his sum on a weekly basis, because "if you get kicked out, they don't pay you back for your month."
Chad says he may ride it out though, and stay in his motel room until he’s forced to go. He says he also plans to keep “on flinging paint. It gives me something to do, and keeps me out of trouble.” But he says he needs to sell more of his paintings or else he might run out of space to put them up in his motel room.
You can follow or contact Chad Galloway here https://www.facebook.com/chad.galloway.9