Minerva Lockwood Pierce was one of a coterie of Reno watercolorists who was motivated by California painter Lorenzo P. Latimer (1857-1941). She was instrumental in founding the Latimer Art Club in 1921, and went on to a long career painting landscapes and supporting local arts organizations, notably as a charter member of the Nevada Art Gallery (now Nevada Museum of Art).
If anyone in the history of the visual arts in Nevada could be described as a "matriarch," it would be Minerva Pierce. Born in 1883 in Trinidad, Colorado, Pierce arrived in Nevada in 1906 with her husband Charles, a wholesale produce manager. The artist became acquainted with the noted San Francisco painter Lorenzo Latimer who was coming to Reno in the fall of each year to teach and paint. Subsequently, she became a charter member of the Latimer Art Club, took up watercolor painting, and made it the medium for her lifetime.
In addition to studying with Latimer, Pierce took classes with Katherine Lewers (1868-1945) at the University of Nevada. While living in San Francisco between 1928 and 1937, she enrolled in workshops conducted by watercolorist George Post.
Pierce traveled extensively—up and down the coastlines of California, Oregon, and Washington, into British Columbia, and over to Hawaii—always sketching and painting. Closer to Reno, the artist's field trips to Pyramid Lake, Lake Tahoe, and the Comstock yielded works that were framed and exhibited, and frequently reproduced in local newspapers.
The artist compiled an exhibition record in Reno that included the National League of Penwomen, the Latimer Art Club, the Nevada Art Gallery, Brundidge's art store, the University of Nevada Library Gallery, and the Nevada Art Association. While living in San Francisco, Pierce exhibited at the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the Oakland Art Gallery. Perhaps her most prestigious exhibit was in 1938 at the Third Annual Exhibition of American Art at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Pierce moved to San Diego to be near her family in her last years, and died there in 1972. Her obituary in the June 23 issue of the Reno Evening Gazette concisely summed up the artist's career: "Her enthusiasm for trees, flowers, mountains and old historical buildings is seen in her watercolors."
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