Nevada Wilson

Nevada Wilson (1877-1961), a native of Elko, spent the first forty years of her life in Nevada, after which she settled in Los Angeles where she established a modest reputation as a painter of desert and mountain landscapes.

Her father, Joseph Alfred Wilson, was a co-owner of the Elko-Tuscarora Stage Line. At the time of Nevada's birth in Elko, the community of Tuscarora was slipping toward the end of its mining boom. Nonetheless, Nevada lived with her family in Tuscarora through her youth and enrolled in California State Normal School in San Jose (now San Jose State University). After graduation, she returned to Nevada and worked for her father's shipping company.

Wilson settled in Reno where she taught art in the public school system. In 1916, she and fellow artist Doris Groesbeck were instrumental in convincing noted California painter Lorenzo Latimer to teach watercolor classes in Reno. The Latimer Club, founded in Lorenzo's name in 1921, meets to this day.

Articles in Reno newspapers during the 1910s detailed many of Wilson's activities. She taught watercolor and china painting classes. She hosted receptions for "Reno's society ladies" in her Second Street studio during which the work of her students was displayed and admired. While living in Reno, Wilson was known as Nevada Wilson Riley, in recognition of the second of her four husbands.

Wilson's manner of painting could best be described as Late-Impressionist. Her western landscapes have a soft, almost sweet tonality dominated by light blues and pinks. Composition was not her strong suit—the treatment of sky and terrain was straight-forward, yet often uninspired.

Wilson moved to Los Angeles in late 1916 and lived there for the next forty-five years. Her reputation as a painter widened as her oil and watercolors paintings were displayed at the Los Angeles Art League and the Palm Desert Art Gallery. Wilson was also a member of the Laguna Beach Art Association. She is cited in Edan Hughes' Artists in California, 1786-1940, and Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick's An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West.

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