Art collector Wally Cuchine speaks to a crowd gathered at the Ely Art Bank on Nov. 14 in front of selected pieces from his collection “Wally’s World: The Loneliest Art Collection in Nevada” which has been touring the state for over a year. (Garrett Estrada photo)

Art collector Wally Cuchine speaks to a crowd gathered at the Ely Art Bank on Nov. 14 in front of selected pieces from his collection “Wally’s World: The Loneliest Art Collection in Nevada” which has been touring the state for over a year. (Garrett Estrada photo)

It might be called “Wally’s World: The Loneliest Art Collection in Nevada,” but rural Nevada art collector Wally Cuchine found himself among plenty of friends when the art exhibit opened at the Ely Art Bank on Nov. 14. As a former Ely resident who now resides in Eureka, Cuchine spoke to the packed gallery about how his passion for collecting art surpasses everything else.

“I’m probably the only person who lives in a $3,500 house filled with $350,000 worth of art,” Cuchine joked during his speech. “My house is the kind of place where if the sofa doesn’t match the art, the sofa has to go.”

Of Cuchine’s self estimated 2,000 pieces of art in his collection, a selection of 35 paintings, sketching and sculptures were hand picked to be on display at the Ely Art Bank until Dec. 28. The exhibit stop in Ely is just one of many for Cuchine’s artwork, as it is currently right in the middle of its three-year tour around different Nevada gallery’s as put on by the Nevada Art’s Council.

For Ely Art Bank’s Lorraine Clark, who worked with the Arts Council to get the show in Ely, the exhibit raises the local gallery’s profile for displaying fine art.

“This is our first show through the Nevada Art’s Council and Nevada Humanities. This raises our whole project here to the next level,” Clark said. “People can come here and see really quality work.”

Cuchine’s collection focuses on the natural beauty of rural Nevada from different angles. Some paintings depict the scenic farms and mountains of the silver state while others display the old, abandoned buildings that litter small towns around the state. Sticking to the show’s theme of loneliness, which was taken from the loneliest Highway 50, none of the art shows people. The life of the state between the people is really the focus.

“I’ve lived in rural Nevada since 1970. I love the open spaces. The solitude speaks to me,” Cuchine said.

He referred to each piece of art as a “friend” and said that his favorite piece in his collection is whatever one he happens to be looking at at the time.

His bubbly, outgoing personality and wide smile on the night of the premier match another piece of artwork displayed at the Art Bank’s, though it is not part of the  “loneliest” collection. It is a painting of Cuchine in a colorful clown suit, a personal gift he received when he retired from the role of director at Eureka’s Opera House.

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