Wander over yonder to Carson Valley dig into the culture of arts

Brian Fitzgerald / Carson Valley Arts Council

From photography to painting, music to culinary, Carson Valley is full of the arts and artists drawing inspiration from the place we call home.

With spectacularly rugged peaks, authentic Western roots that run far and wide, and a type of small- town charm you won’t find anywhere else, Carson Valley is truly an inspiring place. Through the decades, visiting and resident photographers, musicians, chefs, and artists of all kinds have discovered their own artistic individualities here, drawing influence from the region’s personalities. With its beauty, abundant wildlife and land primed for agriculture, along with a strong sense of community, no wonder so many artists choose to call Carson Valley home. And, with the help of organizations like the Carson Valley Arts Council, their works can be experienced at art galleries and exhibits, locally owned shops and restaurants, and special events throughout Genoa, Minden, Gardnerville and Topaz every month of the year.

Experiencing Carson Valley’s unending artistic culture has never been easier for visitors to get a taste of during their next visit to the Valley. Here are just a few of our local artists and how one might take part and enjoy their works.

Eye of Rie Photography & Tintype

Eye of Rie
Provided / Amy Demuth

Gardnerville tintype photographer Rielynn Lunde is a native resident of the region. She has always been a photographer, but it wasn’t until she began studying the life and work of National Geographic photographer Robb Kendric, who spent a large portion of his career shooting working ranches of the American West with his tintype photography setup—a style of photography common during the 1800s that developed an image on a thin sheet of tin, or metal—that changed everything for her.

Over the course of a few years spent meticulously collecting and building custom camera equipment, Lunde was able to open her own shop in downtown Gardnerville, where she invites locals and visitors alike to come in and learn the process of a very special photography medium rooted in the same era as Carson Valley’s first settlements. Stop by Rie’s photography studio in downtown Gardnerville and visit her website right here to learn more about her love of the West and photography and how to make an appointment.

Jakota Wass Music

Jakota Wass
Provided / Amy Demuth

Minden-based musician Jakota Wass has an artistic story that began when he was just 11 years old and asked to take his uncle’s old guitar in for a lesson. Ever since that first guitar lesson, Wass fell in love with performing and began doing shows at Carson Valley wine walks and farmers markets for fun. Now more than 10 years later he’s grown a devoted audience along with an impressive tour circuit, but still makes sure to play all the same places he first started at all those years ago.

Visitors looking to listen to Jakota this summer should be sure to listen to his ode to the Carson Valley in his original song, “Battle Born,” a ballad that gives Home Means Nevada a run for its money. Otherwise he’s got a long list of live performances right here that still include all the Carson Valley performance venues where Wass’ story began.

Pam Brekas’ Experimental Visual Art & Jewelry

Pam Brekas
Provided / Amy Demuth

Anyone familiar with Carson Valley or not will appreciate the work by mixed medium artist Pam Brekas. A resident of Carson Valley for 19 years, but inspired by it for far longer, Brekas is a retired high school art teacher. She and her husband vacationed in the region for many years before finally moving to Carson Valley nearly two decades ago.

Leaning into contemporary and very modern mediums, Brekas found an audience in Carson Valley, where she teaches abstract art workshops in Gardnerville, creates original acrylic pieces, and even jewelry made from spent bullets shot against steel targets, embedded on a tray with artwork behind it.

Brekas works with the Carson Valley Artists Association, Carson Valley Arts Council, the Nevada Artists Association, and Sierra Arts to enrich the lives of visitors and locals alike with her pieces, which can be found at the East Fork Gallery (Gardnerville) and Heart Strings (Minden). Peruse more of her work online at her website, or better yet, plan a trip to see her work this November at the Carson Valley Arts Council’s Copeland Gallery in downtown Minden.

French Bistro Dinners and a Whole New Frontier of Flavor at Woodett’s Diner

Woodett’s Diner proprietor Remon Zamalis and his wife Christelle have been raising Carson Valley’s culinary scene since they first arrived in Gardnerville in 2021, purchasing and reinventing Woodett’s Diner—a beloved diner that’s been a fixture on the local foodie frontier for many years.

Their story began in France, where Remon studied culinary arts in Paris before studying with Chistelle’s father at his own Michelin Star restaurant. There, he met Christelle, and the two would operate a series of businesses ranging from small restaurants to entire resorts from France to Lebanon, passionately studying all the flavor, food, dishes, and menus they could.

Remon worked as a private chef for a variety of high-profile clients, and after 22 years in Texas, realized he wanted to return to the restaurant business. The Zamalis family used to vacation in the Lake Tahoe region and decided to move to the northwestern Nevada region in search of a location to open a new restaurant.

While Woodett’s has retained a few of the signature classics that have always been on the menu, he and his wife Christelle (who runs the front of the house) and son Dimitri (who helps out in the kitchen with Remon) have added many new flavors to the Carson Valley culinary scene, changing the menu every few months. The menu at Woodett’s is always delicious but be sure to keep an eye out for weekly specials like crepes on Wednesdays and Thursdays, or Gyros on Thursdays. See the whole menu and make a reservation right here.

Kim Hunter Steed American West Fine Art Photography

Kim Hunter Steed
Provided / Amy Demuth

As for Carson Valley’s creature scene, local photographer Kim Hunter Steed couldn’t be more inspired here. Steed first picked up photography as a hobby, then really leaned into it when her family moved to Carson Valley, realizing the area offers so much photographic appeal. In the years since, Steed has won several local and national awards, being published in Cowboys and Indians, Range Magazine, Tahoe Quarterly, and Birds & Blooms, which feature her work photographing and capturing images that represent the American West.

See Steed’s work at Cottonwood Creek in Minden, The Genoa Gallery, Art Gallery at Prism in Minden, Overland Restaurant in Gardnerville, and FastFrame in nearby Carson City, which features the largest selection of her work and highlights Steed as a featured artist. For more information on Steed and to purchase her work, click here.

We welcome lovers of the arts from all around the world, and especially our neighbors in South Lake Tahoe, to join us and revel in the arts of Carson Valley. For more information about Carson Valley’s robust arts and culture scene, visit Carson Valley Arts Council at and be sure to save the dates for the 2023 Carson Valley Art Studio Tour, Oct. 14 & 15.

Brian Fitzgerald is a Carson Valley resident and current president of the Carson Valley Arts Council. He has helped the organization identify and pursue what will be a home for the arts in the Carson Valley. He likes a variety of styles of visual art, especially photography. He enjoys living in the Carson Valley and has taken a leadership role in advocating for the arts, advancing the presence of art throughout the community and in bringing the art community together.

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