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Hymers, Schubert exhibits to be celebrated at reception

by Joyce Hollister

He was the man about town, the guy who knew everybody – at least, the movers and shakers – and he made them household words.

He was cartoonist Lew Hymers, who lived for 10 years in the Genoa area and worked for the Reno Evening Gazette.

“In addition to superficially documenting the major movers and shakers in Northern Nevada in the ’30s and ’40s, he helped people to understand how the community operated and worked,” says Jim McCormick, curator of a show of Hymers’ work in Reno earlier this year.

Every Monday morning, McCormick said, people would ask each other, “Did you see who Lew drew?”

Usually the “Seen About Town” column featured eight local community leaders, not only from Reno but also from Carson City or Yerington or Minden or another Nevada town.

McCormick helped hang the new show, “Seen About Town, The Art of Lew Hymers,” opening next week at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center. An opening reception is planned for Nov. 5, 6 to 9 p.m., with music, refreshments and cocktail attire optional.

Some of the Hymers’ work to be on display in Carson Valley will feature cartoons Hymers did of Valley people – in particular, the class of 1940. The cartoons were included in the Douglas County High School yearbook that year.

Hymers took an active part in the life of Carson Valley and in Genoa, and was affectionately called the “Unofficial Mayor of Genoa.”

McCormick, who retired from the University of Nevada, Reno art department in 1992 as professor emeritus, first became interested in Hymers’ work in the mid ’80s when a student showed him a book of character drawings published in 1944.

McCormick produced a show catalog that he calls a “little Seen About Town.” The book, the Reno show which he curated for the Nevada Historical Society Museum and a video on Hymers’ life produced by KNPB public television in Reno all appeared together this year.

The book includes reproductions of Hymers’ work and an essay on his life. For people who would like a copy of the original but can’t find one, this will make a good substitute. McCormick will sign books and answer questions at the reception next week.

McCormick volunteers time at the Nevada Historical Society Museum on a regular basis.

Also being celebrated the evening of Nov. 5 is the “Juanita Schubert Rediscovered” exhibit, now being offered at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville and again in Genoa at the Genoa Courthouse Museum when it opens next spring. The Genoa museum as well as the cultural center are operated by the Carson Valley Historical Society.

Curator for both these museums is Cecile Brown.

Schubert was a longtime Carson Valley photographer and actually only considered herself to be an amateur.

A private and enigmatic person, she kept to herself and took pleasure from her photographs, but never expected to make a living as a professional photographer.

Her ability to capture working ranch life in the Valley was exceptional, as evidenced by the selection of one of her most recognizable photographs, “Off to the Mountains.”

Schubert went to Yosemite during the summer of 1938 to seek the advice of noted photographer Ansel Adams, who provided her with suggestions on composition, lighting and encouraged her to learn to do her own processing.

According to Brown, although many of Schubert’s prints are 50 to 60 years old, they show a creativity and freshness of composition that transcends time.

“Her work, half a century later, still has the ability to excite, to stimulate and to educate,” Brown said.

The Schubert exhibit was funded in part by a grant from the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center is located at 1477 Highway 395 in Gardnerville. For more information, call 782-2555.