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New Environs

Published October 20, 2023

New Environs
Meet four artists who have relocated to Nevada from Utah, New Mexico, Mongolia + London

by Kris Vagner

"Hombre de Zaculeu," portrait by Michael Plyler

It’s always a challenge for artists to connect with new audiences when they move into the region. During the pandemic, it became even harder. And for art fans who want to follow new arrivals, there’s no central place to find them. So, back in January, Double Scoop started New to Nevada, a series of short profiles on artists who have recently relocated to the Silver State. 

Micheal Plyler—from Utah to Carson City

Micheal Plyler is no stranger to the idea of relocation. He was born in Japan to a U.S. military family, worked as a firefighter in Clark County, and led photography workshops for 16 years at Zion National Park in Utah. And for a 36-year span, between 1982 and 2018, he traveled to Guatemala several times to shoot portraits of people living traditional lives, often in poverty and relative cultural isolation, as the world changed around them.

In 2021, Michael moved to Carson City. His first major exhibition there was Selected Works: Maya of Guatemala and Western Landscapes at the Courthouse Gallery early this year. 

More of Michael’s story on Double Scoop

"Standing in Her Power" by Avis Charley: Colored pencil on antique paper.

Avis Charley—from New Mexico to Las Vegas

Avis Charley, from the Spirit Lake Dakota and Diné tribes, grew up in Los Angeles. At 13, she discovered graffiti art. “That was my first art community,” she told Double Scoop writer Lucy Birmingham. “I remember spray painting the wall for the first time, feeling this incredible force just come over me. And ever since then, I’ve kind of just been chasing that feeling.” 

She went on to earn a BFA in Studio Arts painting from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Today, she is a “ledger artist,” following in a tradition that Indigenous people of the Great Plains started in the 1860s—drawing images on antique accounting ledgers and other documents. She’s one of few women who practice the art. 

In 2022, Avis, who had been living in Santa Fe, moved to Las Vegas. She wasn’t sure how to connect with the art community there, so she contacted Fawn Douglas, a member of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, prolific activist, and director of the Nuwu Art Gallery and Community Center. These days, Avis has found the art-community feeling again at Nuwu, where she’s one of the resident studio artists. 

More of Avis’ story on Double Scoop

Turburam Sandagdorj—from Mongolia to Reno

Born in Mongolia and inspired by an artist father, Turburam Sandagdorj became known for mastering the art of cut paper silhouettes, for which he takes scissors to black paper and cuts out the negative space. (PBS Reno viewers might remember him from this episode of ARTEFFECTS.) 

“Wild Horses of the American West" by Turburam Sandagdorj

Turburam—or “Turo” as he’s known locally—has exhibited his work widely in Mongolia, Japan, Europe, and the United States. He lived in Arizona and California, then landed in Reno and became a resident artist at The Generator. The Burning Man aesthetic that’s often in the air at the Sparks makerspace rubbed off on him. In 2022, Turo converted 2D silhouettes, images of a running horse, into a laser-cut steel sculpture, his first Burning Man project. This year, his playa installation was Spirit of the Healing Siren—a larger-than-life sculpture whose body is a robot-like metal bird and whose spinning, psychedelic head with 3D glo-faces, is that of a genderless human borrowed from Greek mythology.

More of Turo’s story on Double Scoop

Kelly Chorpening—from London to Reno

Kelly Chorpening moved from London to Reno in 2022 to become the Chair of Art, Art History and Design at the University of Nevada, Reno. “Moving from the intensely urban setting of London has allowed for encounters with ‘nature’ that are also—ironically if inevitably—encounters with trash,” wrote art critic Chris Lanier.

“Old friends and plastic,” drawing by Kelly Chorpening 

“It doesn’t take a lot of looking to find a lot of trash—and to feel a kind of heightened awareness,” Chorpening told Lanier. “It’s sitting side by side with everything in the landscape—and in our bloodstreams.” It didn’t take her long to begin making hyper-realistic drawings of scraps of trash entwined with scraps of the natural world.

Chorpening’s exhibition Art of Looking is on view in the Tahoe Gallery in the Prim Library at UNR at Lake Tahoe (formerly Sierra Nevada University) in Incline Village through Nov. 27.

More of Kelly’s story on Double Scoop

More from Kris Vagner

Meet Eunkang Koh  by Kris Vagner — September 11, 2023

Double Scoop Brings You the Scoop on Local Arts

by Kris Vagner — August 4, 2023



This PBS Reno series delves into the local arts scene, looking at the lasting impact the arts have in our communities and beyond.

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