Members of the Churchill Arts Council have banded together after the surprising and unauthorized removal of the Permanent Collection from the Oats Park Art Center by former Executive Directory, Michael Scott, to share pieces of their personal art collections with the community filling the Arts Center with a new Permanent Collection called, “Fallon Stands Together.”
“Our staff has gathered art and some remaining items to be in the bigger common area, we reached out to our community if they have art associated with the art center to see if they feel comfortable loaning for a time while we work to retrieve and or build a new collection,” said Theresa Guillen, Arts Council Board Chair.
On the morning of Tuesday, May 30, staff at the Oats Park Art Center in Fallon, NV arrived at the building and discovered that more than 100 pieces from the Permanent Art Collection had disappeared. The works, curated over 30-plus years, were a beloved community asset and the legacy of past Executive Director Valerie Serpa and her husband, Kirk Robertson on behalf of the Churchill Arts Council. The Churchill Arts Council Board of Directors believes that now-resigned Executive Director Michael Scott undertook an unauthorized, intentional effort to dismantle the collection.
“This is a complete betrayal of the memory and hard work done by Valerie to build this collection and was completely unauthorized by the board. We are exploring all of our legal options to remedy the situation,” said Guillen.
The board thought it would be important to have the empty walls left by Scott’s actions full of artwork as soon as possible, certainly before the community came to attend events. To that end, members of the Arts Council have spent the past couple of weeks gathering a multitude of art to ready the barren building for the last two events of the season – the poetry reading that was held June 3, and the Concert in the Park held this past weekend on June 17.
Each piece that now hangs in the Oats Park building is accompanied by a statement from the donor, either explaining the piece or reflecting on what the Art Center means to them and the community.
Amanda Hammond, a current board member, has donated several pieces to the effort. “The pieces from our collection that now hang in the Oats Park Art Center are fond reminders of all this institution has meant to so many. A true diamond in the desert, the…Art Center is strong, resilient, and shines bright in our community,” she said.
In a tip of the hat to Serpa, board member Jessica Rowe explained her contribution, “I’ve been a fan of Elaine Parks’ ceramics and style since I walked into the Oats Park Art Center 15 years ago…When I stumbled upon them after a show and saw that they were ceramic, I thought them a lovely winking, trompe l’oeil nod to Valerie Serpa’s signature event footwear…I enjoy watching people pick them up, realize they are ceramic rather than patent leather, then have the micro-Cinderella moment wondering if they’d fit. For me, they speak of the Arts Center and her empress, all black patent and red lipstick. They’re a touchstone of a time period and a world feel, and one in my hand, I travel time and space. They bring me back to here and to home.”
Rachel and Tedd McDonald have also donated several pieces of their collection and reflected on what the Arts Center has meant to them. “Fifteen years ago, we met and our first dates included performances at the Oats Park Art Center…we began collecting art with the goal to fill ‘our’ house with artwork that reflected our upcoming life together…The collecting was intentional and with meaning to begin and glue our lives together. We have art in every room…It is a constant reminder of the life we have shared with each other, with artists, and with our Churchill Arts Council family. Thank you for the glue.”
As the Arts Council continues pulling together to rebuild the Permanent Collection at Oats Park, hire a new Executive Director, and present the next season of artists to a grateful Fallon community, they are embodying what it means to be a part of this community. When the chips are down there is no better place to recover.