“You can turn all sorts of things into art. You just to use your imagination,” Herschleb said. “Art is everywhere. You just need to look.”
In 2011, Herschleb’s 16-year-old son asked his father to make him an art display for his bedroom. Herschleb thought the piece would be a good project for the family to work on together. They drove down to a construction site where Herschleb was working at the time and found a piece of glass in the trash. They pulled it out, even though Herschleb’s son was skeptical that they could turn the broken piece of glass into something magnificent. Together, they revamped the large shard into a mural that hangs above Herschleb’s son’s bed.
“He couldn’t believe it,” Herschleb said. “It just clicked in his head when everything was all said and done. The entire process opened his eyes. Inspiration is everywhere. You just need to open your eyes and see.”
Herschleb has been in the construction business for the past 25 years, working in various positions such as project manager and the on-site manager. He grew up in the Yosemite Valley and moved to the Truckee Meadows in the 70s. His art education only expands to the knowledge he gained in his high school art class, but Herschleb credits his mom as his artistic inspiration as she exposed him to various forms of art.
“Art is in my blood. My mom was a great artist,” Herschleb said. “She told me that the only thing stopping you is you. She said break out and do other things, experiment with different materials and colors. She would work with oils and then, do something completely different like paint an ostrich egg. I listened to her. I get bored very easily. I like to explore the art world, going from medium to medium. Art is like playing a song. You practice at this one song but once you feel like you mastered it, you can move on.”
Herschleb’s earliest works are photographs that are semi-dissolved in solvent. The solvent blurs and warps the photo, transforming the page into a completely new image.
“People think these are Photoshoped, but they aren’t,” Herschleb said. “It’s totally an organic process. I find a magazine clipping that is printed with a specific ink, pour the solvent on them and wait to see what happens. It takes on a life of its own.”
His work varies from pieces made of broken glass; “broken glass sparkles like diamonds;” to wax and metal work to infinity mirrors. Herschleb made one such mirror for the radio station, 100.1 The X. His metal collage, named “Finding Alexander,” is made mostly out of reclaimed materials Herschleb and his co-workers found at the Alexander apartments building site in south Reno.
Herschleb works on two to three pieces at a time.
“I work on something to get to out my head,” Herschleb said. “I get lost in the moment, turning my vision into reality. It’s only when I’m done that I can let that vision go.”
Herschleb hosts gallery showings three or four times a year and plans on showing his work on the road next year, traveling to Colorado and possibly to San Francisco for the San Francisco Open Artists event. His work was previously shown at this year’s Midtown Art Walk and Nada Dada hotel exhibit.
He believes that the Truckee Meadows’ art community is growing excited to be part of the process.
“With the Midtown district, a lot of different people are collaborating. There’s an art movement going on,” Herschleb said. “Reno is really thriving.”
He is also a firm believer of shopping local and supporting local artists.
“Shopping local keeps money local. Anytime you can help people, especially artists’ businesses, you should,” Herschleb said. “Anyone could go into World Market or a place like that and buy something, but it won’t be unique. I wish the community took more ownership in what’s around us.”
With encouraging his son to step out the box and look at the world with a new set of eyes, Herschleb rallies parents in exposing their children to art, letting them explore their imagination.
“Involve the kids in art. Do something different. Art is about exploration and it’s something you should continuously explore,” Herschleb said. “Take them to the art museum or a play or a concert. Expose them to something different. Art brings balance to my life. I’m happiest when I’m creating. Art has that same effect on other people.”
Herschleb’s studio, My Studio X, is located at 390 Freeport Blvd., Suite 14 in Sparks. For more information about Ray Herschleb’s work, visit www.mystudiox.com.