Art for the Organized & Free-Spirited

Some wares from Resi*he(ART).

Many writers describe themselves as either a plotter or a pantser. Plotters carefully chart their course with outlines before starting a novel. Pantsers (as you may have guessed) fly by the seat of their pants. As a paralegal and a blogger, I’m definitely a plotter (particularly if you count having 4 calendars to run your life). As a writer, I’m a pantser. While I concede that outlines can be valuable planning tools, they’re just not for me.

The great thing about Artown is that it’s set up to satisfy both the highly organized as well as the free-spirited. Held during the month of July, Artown is Reno’s city-wide celebration of the arts. Orderly souls can review the Artown calendar and plan their month accordingly.  While certain events are ticketed and require some planning there are plenty of activities that are free for drop ins.

There are too many amazing exhibits and activities to pack into a single post, but I wanted to give a shout out to a couple of events:

Resi*he(ART) Open House: Sip some wine while meeting some of the creative minds behind the works featured at Resi*he(ART).  171 Los Altos Parkway, Sparks, NV      July 1, 15, 22 & 29 from 4:00-8:00PM. 775-741-4521.

Create, A Space for Arts and Crafts: Stop by between 11:00AM-3:00PM and create your own piece of art. 20 Hillcrest Drive, Space A. Reno, NV. July 8 and 15th. 775-686-6551.

Musician Interview-Russ Dickman

russ_roasterHow did you get into the coffee roasting business?

In my experience, some hobbies remain hobbies for rest and relaxation.  Other hobbies can easily be turned into businesses.  It was like that for me both with coffee roasting and photography at different times in my life.

Specifically with coffee, I acquired the taste for good coffee in my travel agent days while visiting countries like Italy and France, the bean was planted then.  Through the years I found few places that could offer that same taste. Eventually there were roasters and stores that at least offered roasted whole beans.  Since I had a demanding photography business, I settled for buying roasted beans at local stores.

Still thirsting for a fresher cup, I applied myself to researching what it takes to deliver that great cup of coffee; I decided it was time to practice.  I started with a small window roaster and shared some samples with others.  My friends loved the freshness and different tasting origins, so the venture was successful.  With crafting each roast to its specific region and origin, we were able to share the world of coffee with others, no passport needed.

When the opportunity arose, we were able to purchase a commercial roaster, remodel an area for roasting and we started the High Sierra Coffee Roastery business ( The timing was perfect as the photography world was rapidly changing with digital cameras.  So a couple of years after the coffee roasting business started, I closed my photography studio in Reno and freelanced from my home, along with coffee roasting.

My experience as a travel agent and having my own photography studio offered me the education of small business skills which was vitally important to beginning this new venture.

How do you balance your day to day commitments with your creative pursuits?russ_tuba

Prioritizing is the main key when all of the pursuits fall in the same week.  Most weeks are normal consisting of roasting and delivering coffee along with necessary home projects and maintenance of 3 acres of land.  On other weeks, life revolves around rehearsals and concerts and sometimes a photography shoot.  So although balancing can vary each week, I try not to schedule or commit to projects on the concert weeks other than roasting and delivering coffee.  I do have to add that I have a very supportive wife/partner who not only is the second leg of the coffee roasting business, my assistant on many of the photo shoots, but also runs the demanding home commitments on my busier weeks.

With music, it has been part of my life since seventh grade, joining the Reno Philharmonic in 1969 (as tubist) which I continue to play with, along with the Great Basin Brass Quintet that I have been a member for over thirty years.  Coffee roasting can keep us pretty busy, but being a part of music with the symphony and the quintet is the steady underlying creative pursuit in my life.  I still play, I still love it.

What advice do you have for aspiring photographers, musicians and entrepreneurs?

If a seed has been planted or you know what you were born to do, pursue it, learn as much as possible in that area. You will soon figure out if it will just be a hobby or a hobby turned business.  If you feel you can make a living doing what you love then focus on that and don’t give up. Have courage and resist discouragement.  The challenge is to maintain focus above all the big and little trials that may come along.

 What’s next for you?

 I’m always ready for the next adventure and I never want to stop learning.  At this time what I’m doing might be enough as far as businesses.  I have always wanted to be a beekeeper and maybe have a few chickens.  So who knows, I remain open and available for another seed to be planted.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Find a way to make a living doing what you love, what you were born to do or what you are most interested in, whatever it takes.  Educate yourself in that area either in school, travel, or researching on your own. Recognize what will remain a hobby and what could become a business.  If you feel led to venture out and start a business doing what you love, then I would recommend learning some small business skills. If you are not suited for business skills then find a partner that is.

Where the he(ART) Is.


Resi*he(ART) Come in and make yourself at home


For many visual artists today, being “seen” can be a challenge.  While online sites like Etsy offer a limitless reach, it can be difficult to stand out in such a vast forest of artists. The nomadic path of craft shows can also be burdensome particularly if one has to pack an abundance of unsold wares for the drive home.

Sara Sifre understands the spirit and the challenges of the creative journey. During college, she took every art class TMCC offered. “I’ve done just about every kind of art, but I always go back to jewelry.”

Sara Sifre’s store, Resi*he(ART), is the culmination of a ten year dream.  She yearned to  build a community of artists and once considered a coffee house featuring local art, but felt that “it had been done”.


Sara Sifre-Yes those are chairs on the wall.

Sifre explained that she’s looking to make a connection between the artists and what they’re trying to say and the person wanting to have art in her home. The store’s name is a combination of Resident Artist +Art That Resides in Your Heart.

“As long as they’re creating something that makes their heart happy, I want it to be in the public eye,” Sifre said.


A trio of Sifre’s necklaces

Over 30 artists have their work ranging from photos of Nevada’s wild horses to soy candles in Resi*he(ART)’s well-lit space.  Jewelry and clothing are displayed on re-purposed doors, even plastic chairs allowing wares to be seen not crowded. Many of the artists Sifre found on Etsy and Facebook as well as through her daughter, Dahlia’s Girl Scout troop. She notes that Sparks artists have been really receptive.

Creativity is a family affair in the Sifre household.  Sifre’s husband, Sean, has his drum sets in the garage and art room.  Six-year-old, Dahlia draws while her little sister, Lillianna is into music like her dad. Sifre wants to show her daughters “You can follow your dreams and make other people smile.”

In step with building community, on second Saturdays of each month from 4:30 to 7:00  Resi*he(ART) hosts a Sip and Shop an opportunity for people to enjoy a glass of wine and meet the artists and browse. The previous Sip and Shop included a scavenger hunt with clues about the featured artists with a drawing for a door prize.  With a variety of artists bringing in work regularly, each visit to Resi*he(ART) will be an opportunity to discover something new.



171 Los Altos Parkway, Sparks, NV 89436 (Next to Michaels)

Regular Hours-Monday-Saturday: 10:00am to 6:00pm-Closed Sundays

Sip & Shop-Second Saturday of the month-4:30-6:00.

More Art…Less Stress

heart image“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”  Twyla Tharp

Drexel’s College of Nursing & Health Professions ran a study in which 39 adults ages 18-59 spent 45 minutes making art with paper, markers, collage materials and modeling clay. Cortisol levels (that’s the stress hormone) were measured before and after the art exercise. 75% of the participants showed lower cortisol levels after their art making endeavors.

Doesn’t it make you wonder about the remaining 25%?  Were they too Type A to get into it?

In a former life, I worked in foreclosure department spending long hours on the phone with miserable souls with very limited options…pay or get out. One of my colleagues (I’ll call him Harper) would slip away to an empty cubicle to spend his lunch hour working his Sci-FI novel every day. I don’t know if Harper ever published his novel. I believe his lunch hours spent in an alternative universe was beneficial since he was a calm presence in a department of the often-frustrated dealing with the usually-desperate.

While certain artistic pursuits might not fit well in a cubicle environment (especially anything involving clay, paint or welding), sketch pads, colored markers and notebooks are portable and office-friendly. In my work tote, I keep a spiral bound notebook handy for flashes of inspiration (like this one) as well as a small knitting project. So even if you can’t completely transform your cubicle into an art studio, find a way to keep your creative pursuits within reach.

Playing With Fire

img_0430As kids we were often told “Don’t touch the glass” and “Never play with fire.”  But Julia Tachihara does both (wearing the appropriate safety goggles of course).  Her well-lit studio in Sparks, Nevada is reminiscent of a magician’s workshop with colorful glass sheets and rods neatly lined up awaiting to be transformed into Lampwork beads and whimsical creatures.


There’s something magic about watching her form a bead in the fire. Julia admitted img_0431working with glass has been a kind of escape for her, though she opts for knitting or crocheting while watching TV. While the open flame is mesmerizing it also requires complete attention.

As passionate as Julia is about her craft, she graciously shares it with others through demonstrations and workshops.  These photos were taken during a demonstration at her studio at Reno Open Studios.  Workshop details and times are available on her website:

Julia has been an active part of the local arts community participating in the Y’Art Sale in July and recently Reno Open Studios. This fall Julia and her work will also be at the Reno Gem & Mineral Society Fall Artisans Craft Fair. img_0433November 11-13th. Reno Town Mall 4001 S. Virginia Street, Reno.


Artists in Their Native Habitats

city-skyline-reno-with-flag-and-textThe first full weekend in October is Reno Open Studios.  From September 30th through October 2nd visual artists throughout Reno and Sparks open their studios to the public. The line-up includes an impressive array of local artists working in media ranging from gourds to textiles. It’s an amazing opportunity to see how the magic happens.

As with any creative endeavor, you never know who you’re going to meet or what is going to happen. I was fortunate to meet Katherine Case of Meridian Press at the Reno Open Studios.  I’m pleased to report she’s a participant this year too.

Even if you can’t make the road trip this year, do check out their website and mark your calendar for next year (October 6th-8th 2017).

Creative Trifecta-Nancy Podewils

Nancy_01_webMany folks struggle to pursue one creative passion.  Nancy Podewils blends multiple roles as an author, artist and actress. When we discussed dates for the interview, Nancy explained she had a conflict with the previous Saturday– she had a board meeting for the watercolor society in the morning and a performance with the Reno Little Theater that evening. And she also happens to be a clinical social worker at Renown Health. 

My biggest breakthrough came when…

My biggest breakthrough came in 2002, when I wrote & illustrated a self-help book for people struggling with mental health problems or relationship problems.  I had planned to write a book for therapists when I retired; but I ended up writing it much earlier.  I was taking art classes from watercolorist Joyce Burke, who introduced me to Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way” and encouraged me to do the exercises to unblock my creativity:  I had to write three pages every day about anything—grumbling comments to pearls of wisdom—and found myself writing about depression, addiction, relationships, self-esteem, etc.  The pages became the basis for a self-published book, “A Road Map: Guidelines for Getting Where You Want to Go”, which I then felt I needed to illustrate—so I began taking lessons from Jodie Rossi, so I could paint people!  I made the book available to fellow therapists and patients at Renown, as well as to social workers at a statewide conference.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My real-life heroes: Virginia Satir, one of the founders of the Family Therapy movement, who worked so effectively with families, helping them to connect with the “treasure” in each person they met.

My grandmother, who was crippled in infancy (had no use of her right arm, because of an accident), but always managed to be cheerful and concerned about others.

Sheila Leslie and Debbie Smith, very human, caring, strong, ethical women who have true advocates for women, children, education, mental health, and the arts.

My daughter, who works for the CDC in Atlanta and is committed to making a difference in the world.

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits?

Balancing day-to-day commitments with my creative pursuits: It’s a juggling act, and I sometimes short-change myself on sleep (or leave the house a mess)!  But I become exhilarated when I am acting in a meaningful play, or really helping patients at Renown Behavioral Health, or painting successfully, or walking in nature on a beautiful day, or able to inspire a child’s creativity.  I paint sporadically, but when a beautiful scene touches me, I want to see if I can capture the feeling on paper.

My other passions: acting, my work as a clinical social worker, walking, reading, cooking.

What’s next for you?

I am in a new relationship (after being widowed for eight years) and am eager to see where that leads.  I have gotten him interested in theater, and he is helping me to enjoy fishing.

I am open to answering questions.  Art Angels, the program I coordinate for Sierra Watercolor Society (which takes free art into elementary classrooms that do not have art) always can use helpers and monetary support for supplies.  Thank you.