After pivoting to virtual events during last year’s pandemic lockdown, Artown is roaring back in July with 400 events by artists and community organizations in nearly every creative genre.
The festival, now in its 25th season, defines summer in the Truckee Meadows and showcases events in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and North Lake Tahoe. Families can take art classes and enjoy arts activities across the artistic spectrum, from textiles and pottery, to slam poetry, workshops, literary events, life drawing, oil painting, sculpture, hip-hop dance, burlesque, modern dance to ballet.
Artown Executive Director Beth Macmillan assembled an eclectic array of multi-disciplinary performing arts headliners, highlights and emerging stars.
“We are thrilled to be able to present Artown in a way that respects what we all have gone through the past year, by instituting protocols that allow for the safe attendance and participation in all of our festival main stage events at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park,” said Macmillan, who has been at the helm of the instrumental arts organization for nearly two decades.
Tickets are still available for Artown’s Midtown Music Series (Sunday nights), Monday Night Music Series, Cultural Connections (Wednesday nights), Headliner Series (Thursday nights) and the popular Friday Night Music Series (formerly Rollin’ on the River). Tickets for all shows can be purchased at www.artown.org where a complete listing of all of Artown’s 31 days of events can be found.
Here’s some of the Artown 2021 Festival Highlights on the main stage:
- July 8; AJ Croce – AJ plays the songbook of his legendary father Jim Croce in Croce Plays Croce.
- July 9; The Sextones – High desert retro soul.
- July 11; Inner Monster: The Space Between Reno’s own Dancers of Moderngram and Sound Artists of Hivemind Collaborate to bring to Artown a journey of the Space between Seconds and the Time between Heartbeats.
- July 15; Kronos Quartet – One of the most critically-acclaimed string quartets on the planet.
- July 17; Sierra Nevada Ballet’s production of “Giselle” comes with a stellar cast of 30 highly skilled and accomplished dancers.
- July 22; Five-time Grammy award-winning Americana icon Keb’ ‘Mo.
- July 24; Blues Hall of Fame Inductee Ernie Johnson performing with Cliff Porter’s Full Blast.
- July 25; Electric violin virtuoso Tim Snider.
- July 27; World-renowned ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro.
- July 29; Quincy Jones protégé and dynamic soul songstress Sheléa
- July 31; Closing Night features Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Other highlights include:
- July 1 through July 31; Discover the Artsis an entire month of kids’ artistic discovery of all artistic disciplines outdoors at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center, 925 Riverside Drive in Reno. Details: Rosie Brownlow, email@example.com
- July 2; The Note-Ables + Eric Henry Andersen Bandand the cast of Heartbeat to Heartbeat/ Eye to Eye will be the largest assemblage of homegrown artists ever at Artown –
- July 3; Riverside Drive Gardens Tour With Debe Fennell. Horticulture; Master Gardener Debe Fennell shares her passionate community stewardship of the gorgeous gardens of Riverside Drive. Details:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LatinX, Afro-Indigenous and Americana music series features the high-energy sounds of Mariachi Acero de Las Vegas on July 7; Inuit song, drums and dance with Pamyua July 14; the phenomenal Grammy-award winning musicians of American Patchwork Quartet on July 21, and Grammy-nominated New Orleans brass band, Mardi Gras Indian outfit Cha Wa on July 28.
Homegrown artists and community arts events
- July 9 through July 11; Chalk Art & Music Festival at The Atlantis Casino Resort, 800 S. Virginia St, Reno.
- July 10; 7th Annual Lavender Day, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Labyrinth Garden and in Saint Patrick’s Grove at the May Arboretum, Rancho San Rafael Park.
- July 10; Reno Palooza at The Alpine House of Music, 324 E, Fourth St., Reno; a fundraiser for teen suicide prevention and awareness featuring rock, funk and reggae.
- July 15; Outsiders Hair Studio launches their second-look book “Meet the Outsiders” showcasing the latest trends and avant-garde looks. Details: Hair Art at Artown events or Nellie Davis, Nellie@outsidershair.com
- July 16; The14th Annual Gospel Fest, at 6 p.m. on the main stage, featuring Grammy Award-winning artist-writer Juanita Wynn and Dove Award-nominated producer K-Ross. Additional performances by The Wynn Sisters, Desean Horne, David Perez, Luke Wynn, Joshua Watson, William J. Wynn, Cherael Murray and Sky Davis.
- July 17: “When Churchyards Yawn,” a play that catches up with the characters from “Hamlet.” Door time 9:45 a.m. with the curtain at 10 a.m. at the Potentialist Workshop, 836 E. Second St., Reno.
- July 17; SVP in Midtown Celebration at South Virginia Plaza in Midtown
1525 S. Virginia St.
- July 17; The 54th Annual Basque Festival, California Building, 75 Cowan Drive.
- July 24; Cliff Porter’s Full Blast, on the main stage, featuring Blues Hall of Fame Inductee Ernie Johnson.
- July 24; Reno Pride Parade and Festival at Wingfield Park.
The main venue
This year, Artown’s festival footprint has moved from its traditional home at the Wingfield Park Amphitheater to Washoe County’s Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. Artown festival staff felt that the festival needed much more room than the smaller City park could accommodate under Covid-19 conditions and pandemic uncertainties when the 2021 festival planning began in September of 2020. Artown wanted its supporters to be and feel safe to assemble outdoors.
The main stage measures 40’ x 40’, with state-of-the-art lighting and sound (provided by Starsound) on 4.5 acres of festival grounds, spread out with a collection of more than 500 6’ x 6’ socially-distanced seating pods> The pods can comfortably hold four people with chairs, blankets and food. These pods can be pre-purchased and assigned, or purchased on-site day of show.
Artown will have its usual food and beverage concessions at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, but families also can choose to picnic with their favorite foods from any one of 16 participating “Grab n Go” restaurant locations, curated by Edible Reno-Tahoe Magazine.
Now in its 25th festival season, Artown is a non-profit Nevada corporation whose mission is to inspire community through the arts. Each year the festival hosts more than 300,000 attendees at more than 100 venues, set against the backdrop of Northern Nevada’s high desert landscapes, green forests, snow-capped mountains, the Truckee River and Carson River, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe.
Artown is supported, in part, by the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency and the state of Nevada.
NOTE: This story was edited July 7 to update the Artown schedule.