You might know them as performing bicycle stuntman, but the Klementi twins count more than popping wheelies among their talents.
Both Egon and Helmut Klementi, two brothers from Austria who first arrived in South Lake Tahoe to perform bike stunts at the casinos, are accomplished artists and longtime members of the Tahoe Art League.
The Klementis hung a selection of their art along with works by other Tahoe artists in the Snowflake Gallery at Barton Memorial Hospital earlier this month. Twenty percent of the sales benefit the Barton Foundation, while the remainder of the money goes to the art league.
But it's not all about fundraising. For Egon Klementi, the gallery is one of the nicest places to showcase his art in the South Shore.
Klementi got his first art lessons at 10 years old from a Belgian prisoner of war turned art instructor who exchanged classes for a loaf of bread during the early 1940s in Austria. He kept drawing his whole life, but performing lured him, and it wasn't until about 20 years ago that he was able to devote himself to painting, drawing, sculpture and other mixed media.
"I was always trying to draw, always learning. But performing, that was No. 1. The big difference is that in show business we made great money. Art you can do all the time, but you can't make a living," Klementi said.
Amber Hall, a respiratory therapist at Barton, doesn't have a Klementi hanging on her wall. Yet.
Hall moved to Tahoe last year after she bought a 1937 historic cabin built by a former mayor of Jackson, Calif. She wanted to decorate the house with art from Tahoe artists, so she started "shopping" at Barton.
"I'd been walking up and down the gallery, and I thought it would be nice to have local artists in the cabin. Honestly when you go through our halls, you think you're in a museum," Hall said.
She's spent $1,445 on five pieces of art so far, and though the cabin's walls are getting tight, Hall said she can branch out to the neighboring bunk house. Most of the Klementi pieces cost more than she wants to spend --the works range from about $900 to $1,000 --but Hall said she hopes to hang one of their pictures eventually.
"I've worked at many hospitals and this is the first hospital I've ever seen with an art gallery. It's pretty unique. It's nice to see patients' family members stop and look at the art. It's relaxing for them," she said.