image: Dani DeRosa

At the July 21, 2022 reception, Kris Vagner and her Double Scoop team created an inviting space for people to explore the work of those artists featured in Double Scoop’s podcast series, hosted by Holly Hutchings. Find the podcasts here.

The reception was held in the Student Galleries South, Jot Travis Building on the University of Nevada Reno campus.

Rob, Garrett is an Air Force veteran and sculptor, who got into creating art somewhat late in life and how, as Kris Vagner says “it just provided this like zone of comfort for him that he found amazing and he speaks about that really well.” – image: Dani DeRosa.

Lance L. Smith is an artist, illustrator muralist, and the director of the Rogers Art Loft Residency in Las Vegas. “I am here in Reno, thankfully, to be a part of this exhibition about mental health. When first approached about creating work highlighting art and mental health I was actually really excited. Mostly because I know in which ways art has assisted with my mental health and the way that also as a teacher, I’ve seen the way that creative expression can be a really powerful tool for folks.”

Lance L. Smith standing in front of their watercolor piece depicting cowrie shells – image: Dani DeRosa

“So these pieces in particular, specifically the cowrie shell piece, which is two circles that create a Mobius strip. Each circle of eight on each side is meant to represent the phases of the moon. These works specifically are conversations about the cowrie shell as a tool to acknowledge the divine feminine and also… the way humans are mostly made up of water. So this work is really kind of a conversation about the ebbs and flows of life.” 

I ask about the rings Lance is wearing.

“One is an adinkra and one is a Sankofa, which means ‘go back and fetch it’…It’s okay to go back and pick up what you left behind … And the other little ring is just a cowrie shell to acknowledge the work that’s on display this evening.”

“I think it’s brought in so much joy to her and I think it shows through her work.” Carolyn speaking about Jessica Schimpf. – image: Dani DeRosa

“My name is Jessica Schimpf and I’ve been a glassblower for I would say over 10 years and I own a studio in downtown Reno. My company is called Mantra Glass Art. And I started Mantra right after college in 2010. Kind of as just a practice company not really thinking it would turn into anything and then it actually blew up. So very fortunate. Thank you.”

Her assistant Carolyn “helps with everything from blowing the pieces to helping with classes.”

I asked Carolyn what she’d say to people who are afraid of facing their mental health and afraid to create art. 

“Try. I think the biggest and the hardest step of doing anything is to just put yourself out there (or) you’ll never know how to get better..”

“There is such a horrible stigma against mental health and depression and anxiety. I feel like it’s becoming more of a conversation now than it used to be. Embrace it. Admit it to yourself. The sooner you know what’s happening with you, the sooner you can make yourself better. Just don’t be embarrassed about it because everybody else is probably going through the same thing as you…”

Deliverance by Sogand Tabatabaei – image: Dani DeRosa

Holly Hutchings spoke with me about her experience leading up to starting the series of podcasts. (The first two podcasts are now live: Rob Garrett and Lance L. Smith,) 

“So, the podcast side of this began as an idea a couple of years ago when I was struggling with my own mental health. And I’m a journalist. I’m a storyteller. I was having a really hard time putting content out into the world because my anxiety was blocking me so badly and my brain was gaslighting me. I struggled and I went to a therapist. I did the work. I was getting better but I was talking with Kris (Vagner) and just wanted to tell. I knew I couldn’t be the only creator who knew they needed to put art into the world but was really scared to do it.”

“I had gone from being an NPR member station reporter at KUNR and or to like, slamming on the brakes. I could not put a story out there because I was terrified. I wanted to stay home, close up the doors and not let anyone see me or my work ever again.”

“And it’s been really cathartic for me. Now I feel like I’m back to myself to a safe place of sharing. So thanks to Kris for giving me the major nudge to put the work out there. “

I’m OK, I’m not OK- photo by Dani DeRosa.

Kris Vagner, founder, publisher, and editor of Double Scoop shared her insights on the project.

“…Discussions about mental health are in the air in a big way right now so it was a perfect time to talk to artists about it.

“So we have released two of our mental health podcasts so far, and we’re about to release two more. And then it’s all four of those artists for the season in the gallery right now to challenge mental health.”

Kris mentioned consulting with expert Manal Toppozada of Note-Able Music Therapy who said “she liked the good conversations happening, that people can tap into (it) at a low commitment way. And she said she’s really impressed with what she’s seeing in the social media sphere. She said she thinks people are doing a really good job kind of keeping this big, rolling discussion going about mental health in a way that just wasn’t happening 10 years ago, or even five years ago.”

Glass artist Jessica Schimpf – image Dani DeRosa

Kris mentions art class spots in the community. 

“The Copper Cat, The Generator in Sparks and Wedge ceramics in Reno…. And if it’s even scary, it’s much less scary once you walk in the door because all these people are very nice and welcoming. People always report that it just got them in a frame of mind they may be even weren’t expecting there’s just something about it. It  just gets you in a kind of a zone.”

Find this talented bunch at, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast platforms. They offer a mailing list through their site. 

Double Scoop’s Instagram account is: @doublescoopnevada.

Dani DeRosa is the Sierra Nevada Ally’s Civic Action Coordinator. She is a multimedia journalist from Sparks, Nevada driven to serve stigmatized and undeserved populations and has done so in both healthcare and as a grassroots events coordinator. She’s led entrepreneurial workshops with both The Holland Project and Reno Bike Project.

Founded in 2020, the Sierra Nevada Ally is a self-reliant 501c3 nonprofit publication with no paywall, a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, offering unique, differentiated reporting, factual news, and explanatory journalism on the environment, conservation, and public policy, while giving voice to writers, filmmakers, visual artists, and performers. We rely on the generosity of our readers and aligned partners.