Chad Sorg finds fertile ground to grow art in Goldfield

Mar. 2, 2013, article by Geralda Miller, Reno Journal Gazette

Moving a year and a half ago to a rural town four hours south of Reno was a good decision for artist Chad Sorg.

Sorg moved to Goldfield to help “plant” vehicles in the ground and paint them. Forty cars and two buses now make up the International Car Forest of the Last Church.

But while living in this town of approximately 200 people in a rusty trailer with wood paneling and a wood stove, he’s shifted from painting abstracts to realism and has been writing incessantly for his blog.

“I hadn’t invested serious time painting realism in oils for years, and the quiet life in Goldfield has allowed me to slow down and study my craft,” Sorg said. “Solitude for an artist is of utmost importance. I have made very good use of that solitude. I’ve been studying books on writing technique and I’ve taken up poetry as well.”

Life in Goldfield

A snapshot of what he’s been painting and writing is on display in an exhibit titled “All Your Bus Are Belong to Us: Oil Paintings and Writings From the Car Forest” in the Erik Lauritzen Gallery at Truckee Meadows Community College. In the narrow, second-floor hallway, Sorg’s landscapes, portraits and buildings hang with several blog entries — all highlighting life in Goldfield.

Besides an artist statement and title, most visual art exhibits allow the viewer to devise the narrative, but Candace Nicol, interim art galleries curator, said she liked the idea of including Sorg’s writings about his experiences.

“I like his stream of consciousness,” she said. “Most visual artists are not good at writing, and he’s good at both.”

The college has several of Sorg’s pieces in its permanent art collection — all of his abstract art.

“He left Reno, went down to an isolated area and started painting realism,” Nicol said. “I think that he’s coming into a genre that is more narrative in form that also relates to his writing. I think a lot of his earlier work with the resin was exploring the medium, not telling the story he wanted to tell. I think it was good that he left the city.”

Blog artist

Nicol calls Sorg a blog artist.

“I think that is more his art form,” she said.

The name of his blog is “Fishbowler,” which the Urban Dictionary defines as someone “who does a pointless task in pursuit of a fruitless goal.” Sorg defines fishbowling as someone living without money.

On October 5, 2011, in the Goldfield Journal No. 16, he wrote “Somewhere Inflatable?” Here’s an excerpt:

“Collect moments. Start doing it now if you haven’t been already. It’s easy for an artist to look back at himself from a certain time period. He’s left his record. It’s all right there in the paint dabs, pixels, syllables, video snippets. They’re mementos; past lives, past loves, future wishes … Fishbowling … It’s a way of life that I’ve been exploring for 5 years. I stay in a new location and see how it affects my artwork. How do my surroundings mark my vision? It’s a kind of experiment on myself. Maybe art always is that. Sometimes this life is very social, some times it’s not. Maybe I’ve always been a kind of wandering artist — I don’t even know why I said maybe. I’ve always felt well suited in that way because I could live anywhere. My art is the same; it’s all over the place. It can come from anywhere. Somewhere inflatable?”

Sorg used to install art across the state around 2005 for the Nevada Arts Council. It was one of those drives that he met Mark Rippie, who was creating the car forest.

“He invited me to move there and work on it with him,” Sorg said. “He needed an artist. I started painting some cars with spray paint back then and finally the opportunity came up for me to move there.”

After doubling the number of vehicles that were in the forest, Sorg said he and Rippie ended their friendship about six months ago, and he’s no longer helping Rippie. For a short stint, he also was president of the Goldfield Chamber of Commerce.

“They feared me and my burner-type friends,” he said. “But more key is that Mark Rippie happens to be a very unpopular guy. So, yeah, I was an outsider there aligned with a local outsider. I don’t blame the town’s people for not trusting me, since I was associated with that guy.”

He considers it a lesson learned.

“I had this big dream to attract artists to Goldfield, to experience the solitude and simplicity of the place and use this place for such,” he said. “I had imagined myself a monk, but really, I’m a pretty sociable guy. I get sidetracked and I want to be involved and I want to feel important and I want to be liked, but in the end, I’m going to realize the best thing I could do for the world is to simply make art. I bit off too much, which is my usual pattern.”

Return to Reno

Sorg’s fishbowling days are coming to an end.

“I feel that I learned, and shared, all that I could, living that transient lifestyle performance,” he said.

Sorg, who in 2007 was one of six artists that started Nada Dada, a collaboration of artists who show their work in Reno motels, said he’s moving back to Reno.

“I intend to be living back in Reno by the time Nada Dada rolls around again in June this year,” he said. “It feels like it might be time for me to settle down and just be a normal American. Maybe at some point I’d be able to own a home in Goldfield as a getaway, an artist retreat, but to be honest, I miss Reno and the voluptuous amount of creative activity there.”

article by Geralda Miller, Reno Journal Gazette, Mar. 2, 2013


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