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Arte Italia Makes for a Fun Date Destination

By Jackie Shelton, Guest Contributor

This season is so different from falls of the past: My kids are grown, my boyfriend’s kids are grown, and we find ourselves able to spend some time together on a weekend afternoon enjoying the abundant cultural opportunities that Reno has to offer.

Jackie Shelton and her boyfriend Clay at arte italia's "Neorealismo" exhibit
Jackie Shelton and her boyfriend Clay at arte italia’s “Neorealismo” exhibit

Which is why we chose one recent weekend afternoon to visit arte italia. I spent many leisurely afternoons there in the late 90s when it was the Hardy House, but now it’s an entirely different experience, with a gallery that sometimes hosts touring art and a culinary kitchen where Italian chefs hold popular classes a few times a year.

We were there that Sunday to experience a photographic exhibit called “NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy, 1932–1960.” This exhibit has traveled from Europe to New York to San Francisco, and is now right here in downtown Reno through the end of December.

Neorealismo is a photographic journey of journalistic images capturing life in Italy from a time of fascism through post-World War II reconstruction.

As we walked through the curated collection, we were drawn in by the dichotomies: in one image, men slog along a snowy street, shovels in hand, to tackle yet another day of grueling work. In another, a young man seemingly defies gravity while performing a one-handed cartwheel in a largely empty town square in Venice. In still another, two children are seen from behind trudging down a rock-strewn path, the bigger one with his arm around the shoulders of the smaller child in a clear symbol of support and even love.

CATTANEO Vicoli a napoli
Mario Cattaneo From the series Alleys in Naples Naples, 1951-58 © Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea, Milano-Cinisello Balsamo

It’s as though they were living in two completely disconnected realities, and yet, they were joined by the Italian spirit of preservation in the days before, during and after World War II.

DE ANTONIS Rapino, pesca della fortuna
Pasquale De Antonis Rapino, lucky fishing Abruzzo, 1935 © Archivio De Antonis

It’s not surprising that it took the exhibit’s curator Enrica Viganò a decade to gather the 110 prints that comprise the exhibit; they were snapped by more than 50 Italian photographers, and in many cases, she was also able to secure the original magazines, photobooks and newspapers in which they circulated.

My boyfriend and I marveled at the joy, the devastation, the loss, the hope, the joviality, the sadness — and ultimately, the resilience of Italians during this turbulent time.

The exhibit itself was so powerful, we decided to conclude our cultural excursion with a debrief over some delicious pasta, this event curated by Chef Alberto Gazzola of Centro. We even finished off the date with a serving of gelato for good measure. Because, gelato.

The gallery at arte italia is open from noon to 5 Fridays through Sundays, so it’s the perfect destination for a compelling afternoon of cultural exploration. And arte italia’s location in Reno’s arts core also means you’re surrounded by many incredible restaurants, all within walking distance.

It was the perfect date afternoon: a free museum exhibit that sparked engaging conversation, a stroll down Reno’s tree-lined streets and a spectacular meal. We highly recommend a visit to arte italia to experience this incredible internationally acclaimed exhibit. Next time, we might even invite the kids!


NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy, 1932 – 1960

On View:
Through December 29, 2019

Gallery Hours:
Friday through Sunday, 12 to 5 PM

Free of charge


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