Tess King: Gallery Director & President of the Elko County Art Club

As a parent of two little girls, I (Anthony Crosby) want the best for them. I want them to grow up happy, healthy, educated, and cultured. I do everything in my power to make sure they have the tools needed for development and success. However, I know that no matter how many times I let them practice counting to five on my hands, their growth wouldn’t be complete without immersing them in the arts. This is something I’m thankful I’m able to do right here in our hometown, thanks to people like today’s guest! In fact, after meeting with our featured person for this article, I took my children to an art class at her club, and they couldn’t have had a more enjoyable experience!

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This week, we’re joined by Tess King, the gallery director and president of the Elko County Art Club. On top of holding those two titles, Tess also teaches personal art classes on the side. This Elko-born-and-raised artist is a real pro when it comes to skills like drawing and painting. If you haven’t already, stop into our local Art Club and take a gaze at not only Tess’ work, but pieces from several local artists! However, before you run off and do that, you need to keep reading to get to know Tess a little bit; I promise you won’t regret it!

Thank you for joining us this week, Tess. My first question may be a little obvious, but we have to know. From where did your love for art come, and how did it lead you to where you are today?

“My love for art started in elementary school. I had an awesome art teacher out at Spring Creek Elementary. She inspired me, and I took it from there! I took art classes throughout high school, and I received the Elko County Art Club scholarship going into college, where I took as many art classes as I could. I took painting, drawing, sculpting—all off it. I got my Associate in Arts degree from GBC (Great Basin College) in 2011.

“After that, life hit, and I started working. I worked random jobs for a while before eventually moving in to work at the Newmont warehouse in town. My art was just a hobby for me at this time. However, when my youngest daughter was born, she was a micro-preemie (born at twenty-six weeks). So, I didn’t end up going back to work; I stayed home to care for her and help her grow developmentally.

“After she grew and is doing amazingly, and that meant I didn’t have to spend all day taking care of her, my husband suggested I go in and see what the Art Club had to offer. I joined the club, and I started teaching art classes just a couple of months later. It blew up from there! Now, I’m the gallery director and president of the Elko County Art Club! It’s been crazy, but it’s been fun. I’m excited to see where it leads to from here.”

Where does your genuine joy for art come from, Tess? Why do you love it so much?

“My true sense of joy comes from the expressionism of art. Art is the truest form of someone’s expression. Everyone is different, and even if everyone in my class paints the same image, the result will be completely different from person to person. It’s unique to everyone. I’ve had people come in who have never held a paintbrush in their hand, and they leave with a piece of art they’re proud to hang in their house. I’m very passionate about creating unique art pieces myself, so I just want to share that with everybody throughout the community to get people to realize their true expression.”

 As a lifelong Elko area resident, how have you seen the art scene grow in this community over the years?

“When I was growing up here, you didn’t see a lot of that stuff. Now, with things like the Mural Expo and the centennial boot project taking place and organizations like the Elko Area Chamber and Downtown Business Association becoming more aware of it, I’ve seen a more positive outlook on it; it’s evolved over the last five years or so. I think the people here are a lot more receptive to art now. It’s such a positive thing the community really needs.”

Tess, how would you encourage someone who may be inspired to come to check out everything that you’re doing at the art club, but may be nervous about doing so because they can barely draw a stick figure? Is this outreach only for artists?

“I would encourage them to come down to the gallery and check it out. You don’t have to consider yourself an art connoisseur to be involved with the arts, and you don’t have to be an artist to be a member of the club.

“The art outreach in the community is for everyone. It’s not just for retired, older adults; we even have kids classes that are big on structuring the kids for success and helping them with problem-solving. We want the community to know they have a place for expressionism. If they have a hard week at work, they can come to an art class and put all that stress away through a new vice.”

Wonderful! Well, thank you for joining us this week, Tess! Is there anything else you’d like to share before we let you get back to your canvas?

“Art is really important whether they see it as important or not. The creative expressionism and problem-solving aspects that come through art are what’s really important!”

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See you around, Elko!

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