February 22, 2024


Without Art It's Really Boring!!!

Conflicting record: From time to time the stories really don’t match the history textbooks

4 min read

In 1982, the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce founded a bifurcated award honoring visible and doing artists — a lengthy-overdue award that identified artwork as a big contributor to the local economic climate. The board of directors unanimously supported the strategy and John Mother or father, as I remember, instructed it be named for Lee and Sally Lewis.

The to start with Dr. Leland and Sally Lewis Award recipients for visual artwork were being Dick and Bev Hackett, with longtime choir director Miriam Libby obtaining the executing art award. The 1st awards ended up introduced at the chamber’s 1983 set up meal at the Countrywide Lodge in the times when award recipients were being not introduced in advance of the annual banquet.

If you knew Dick and Bev, you can envision how complicated it was to convince them to attend these kinds of an affair. The only cause they agreed to it was a recommendation from Allan and Betty Rogers that being at the evening meal would signify a nod of appreciation from the arts neighborhood to the Chamber of Commerce for producing the award. Minor did Dick or Bev know that they were being going to be the 1st recipients, and that the irascible Bob Paine would be introducing them and making the presentation.

Paine, as outdated-timers will probably recollect, enjoyed talking about Nevada City’s previous, but insisted on remaining termed a storyteller, not historian, mainly because historians experienced an obligation to adhere to identified info and storytellers could, within just motive, spin regardless of what vibrant tale they desired. (And Bob spun some doozies, that is for confident).

These days, storytelling as opposed to historical past can usually be sorted out with an online look for or go to to the Searls Historic Library. Even with this sort of easily out there assets, nonetheless, the new house owners of the National Lodge claimed during their 2020-21 renovation that Lola Montez experienced been a visitor there. Real truth is, Lola remaining Nevada County in the spring of 1855 to be portion of a gold hurry then underway in Australia, and the resort did not open until eventually the subsequent August.

Lola Montez (1821 – 1861)
Library of Congress

There’s no indicator she at any time returned listed here, so the promotional use of Lola’s identify and image, suggesting she experienced when been a hotel guest, is an example of storytelling, not history. But we have created about that in the earlier, so there is no will need to rehash Lola myths currently.

JUST One particular More

Nicely, OK…maybe just a single extra.

1st, even so, permit me say that Sarah Coleman, Miles Toland and Brianna French intended and concluded a wonderful Nevada Theatre mural undertaking that will dazzle theater-goers for decades to arrive. It is a stunning get the job done of art, but I was astonished to see that as an component of the mural job a portrait of Lola now hangs in the lobby representing just one of the theater’s “more notable performers” — a claim built for several many years by several individuals. But Lola died in 1861 and the theater didn’t open up until 1865.

I do not want to rain on someone’s parade, and I enthusiastically applaud the mural undertaking, but by 1865 Lola was useless and buried in Brooklyn. Which is an simple point that even my dear good friend Bob Paine could not have spun.

How did these a factually unattainable claim grow to be embedded in local historical past? The most very likely clarification is that though Lola did accomplish in Nevada Metropolis at a Nevada Theatre, it was a various Nevada Theatre — unrelated to the existing 1 — positioned a few of blocks from the constructing that now bears that title. The timeline combine up evidently built its way into print at some stage a long time in the past and, as the previous noticed goes, the rest is historical past. Besides, in this case it is not background it is a fantasy that will not go absent.

Notables who did dance, sing, preach, act, lecture or in any other case entertain audiences at the 1865 Nevada Theatre include some really notable people from the next 50 percent of the 19th century. But, alas, Lola was not just one of them.

Mark Twain, Tom Thumb, clergyman/social reformer Henry Ward Beecher, French violinist Camilla Urso, Italian opera star Pasquale Brignoli, illusionist Harry Keller, dancer Loie Fuller, Cornish countertenor Richard Jose, and lots of other Victorian Period luminaries graced the authentic raked phase of the 1865 Nevada Theatre, which includes soprano Emma (Wixom) Nevada, who, in 1901-02, took time out from her common routine of European opera residences to tour the United States. The tearful, psychological live performance she gave at the Nevada Theatre in March 1902 proved to be Emma’s last effectiveness in her childhood residence.

As for the Dr. Leland and Sally Lewis Award for Visual Art, I feel Sarah, Miles and Brianna have earned a standing ovation, and I hope situations will make it possible for for a official presentation later on this 12 months.

Historian Steve Cottrell, a former Nevada City Council member and mayor, can be contacted at [email protected]

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