As a creative type, I (Anthony Crosby) am asked to help come up with unique ideas for different things, from time to time. However, depending on the situation, this doesn’t always produce the “joy” in me as some may think. It’s not always easy coming up with an idea when asked, especially when it’s on the spot. For example, I remember once being approached to help come up with lyrics to a song, by someone who was going through the process of writing one. My brain froze when I was asked, and I was of little to no help. Afterward, I realized that us creative types can be a little strange; we often produce the best content when the only expectations we’re trying to meet are our own.
Today we’re joined by Rachel K Pittaro. Rachel is a local, award-winning muralist who has helmed such pieces as the mural found on the side of the Ruby Mountain Resource Center (as seen in the very last photo of this article). When she’s not painting on the sides of buildings, Rachel mostly spends her artistic time on canvases; however, she’s also a digital artist and will even paint on pieces of wood she finds along her day.
Thank you for joining us this week, Rachel! You seem to have a gift for creating beautiful things. From where did this passion come, and where would you like to take your talents in the future?
“I’m a fifth-generation Nevadan. Ages ago, my family was in the dairy farming business, but many of them were well-known artists themselves. I have drawn my whole life; I started when I was two-years-old. After high school, I started freelancing which was a huge journey for me because it’s hard work. I’ve had to learn a lot about myself, my art, business and how to those three things connect.”
“Eventually, I had a baby, and I have just recently come out of the artistic “hibernation” I went into after having him. It can be a struggle to find your identity after having a kid. This resulted in me doing a lot of reflecting and refining. I had to learn how to pick up the best pieces of myself. I’m thankful for that experience. My son inspired me to be the version of myself I always wanted to be. Now, I’m ready to offer my work to the community and finally do something with it; I feel like it’s time!”
With art being a subjective medium, this may be a tricky question to answer. How would you best describe your art and your process for creating it?
“My art is more of a spiritual path, rather than a hobby for me. It’s the intuitive expression of my emotions, experiences, and ideas. It’s all usually raw, and sometimes unrefined; I can do refined/institutionalized work, but I prefer to have an empty canvass and freedom. Being told what to do as an artist is really hard because it’s not always easy to create content unless you’re passionate about it.”
When it comes to creating a mural, how does that process differ compared to painting on a traditional canvas, Rachel?
“I think it can be easier to get lost in the details of a bigger piece because you only see what’s right in front of you. So, it’s important to have a global perspective as you’re painting your mural. Sometimes I’ll stand back and look at my work through the smaller end of a pair of binoculars so I can see what’s coming out from my paintings.”
What’s your take on the art culture here in Elko, Rachel? As someone who has grown up in this area, is Elko a place you’re thankful to live as an artist in particular?
“I don’t want to sound negative, but there isn’t much of an art culture here. Elko is like a blank canvas right now. I’ve seen murals pop up; that’s really cool. I know The Elko Art Club does things to reach out to the community. However, I don’t think many people realize how much potential there is here for an art culture, especially in a smaller community like Elko’s. I think it could be important to develop something where artists could talk, bounce ideas off each other, and create together.
“I’ve tried to “escape” Elko many times. I have always come back. After coming back the last time, I realized how much of a gem our town is. When I left, I could never find another place like it; I would find myself missing it. A lot of my inspiration for my paintings comes from the nature around here; you can’t find that in a large city.”
Thank for sharing your story and perspectives with us today, Rachel! What’s one thing people need to know about you before we wrap this conversation up?
“I am looking to put myself out there for mural work; I want to help our community if anyone is looking for art. I also want people to know there is local talent here, and I’m not the only one. I want to encourage other people to reach out to others about their art too.”
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See you around, Elko!