Teddy Swecker with one of the children’s books she wrote and illustrated. Swecker and the Humboldt River Art Gang are showing their paintings at the Cookhouse Museum in Battle Mountain through the month of October.
Teddy Swecker with one of the children’s books she wrote and illustrated. Swecker and the Humboldt River Art Gang are showing their paintings at the Cookhouse Museum in Battle Mountain through the month of October.
Teddy Swecker of Winnemucca and her Humboldt River Art Gang brought their paintings to the Cookhouse Museum in Battle Mountain for display and sale at their ‘Art on the Road’ show which will run throughout the month of October.

The gang consists of her talented students, most of whom have been painting with her at classes and workshops in Winnemucca for several years.

“We’ve been together for many years, since 2007. We started out at the Youth Center in Winnemucca. It’s mostly an adult class, although we have had high school students join us,” said Swecker. This is the gang’s first showing in Battle Mountain, and they show bi-annually in Winnemucca every June and December. 

Swecker said they did a show at the Dini Art Center in Yerington and will do another there in November, and that gave them the idea to take their art on the road. They subsequently did two shows in Eureka and are looking forward to doing more art shows in rural Nevada communities.

Swecker also writes and illustrates children’s books and hides small pictures-within-a-picture in her illustrations, such as cats, ducks, sheep, stars, mountains – even a Basque symbol in one and Sarah Winnemucca on a mountaintop in another. The three books by Swecker are titled “Under Open Skies,” the setting of which is the little town of Orvada, Nevada, “Spirit Walkers,” and “Ducks, Ducks.”

Most of the gang have studied art at different levels, but all agreed they learn constantly.

Della Domingo prefers painting landscapes, and has been painting for most of her life, but said she has learned more in the last few years with Swecker than she has in decades.

“Teddy is a great teacher because it doesn’t matter how experienced you are or what your style is, she can help you improve,” said Domingo. “You always learn something new. Other people will see something with fresh eyes that you don’t see.”

Sarah Thielen-Frey, a friend and student from Orvada, said due to the traveling distance, she usually just paints at home but has attended Swecker’s workshops. “I’m a good friend of Teddy’s, and she always invites me to show with all the lovely ladies,” said Thielen-Frey. “Once in a while, I join them on a workshop day, and I always learn something. Teddy is an amazing teacher; she helps you to see.”

Swecker agreed, “Art is not how coordinated you are with your hands, it is how you see.” 

Sheila Crawford Bunch of Winnemucca has been painting since she could hold a crayon, and said she met Swecker in 1987. Bunch said she took classes from Swecker at the college. She’s done commissions and said, “Portraits for a living and landscapes for fun. Commissions are hard – meeting people’s expectations. I would refer them to Teddy,” said Bunch to much laughter.

Many of the gang remarked on the therapeutic and cathartic benefits of painting. Mary Randall has painted with Swecker for more than 12 years and said she took up art after her relocation to the area.

Randall said, “Art saved my life when I moved here. I had lived in Hawaii – and Tahiti – for more than 35 years. I had never been away from the ocean, and I moved to Winnemucca. I was so depressed. I had just helped my Mom pass for nine months in a hotel room near Laguna Beach [California] and then I came here, and I wanted to throw myself in front of a train. But then I met Teddy and the girls. While I was dog-sitting for Teddy one Thanksgiving night, she had left her paints sitting out all around me, and I began painting again. It cured my depression. And these women are the most loving, kind coven I have ever had the pleasure to know. It’s a magical group.”

If Battle Mountain residents would like to take art classes and join Swecker’s gang, she teaches from 4 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday in the loft area at the Advanced Movement & Wellness Center at 135 W. Second Street in Winnemucca. On the last Sunday of every month, Swecker holds an all-day workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the loft. 

For more information or to join the gang, contact Swecker at (775) 338-6129.

The Cookhouse Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from noon – 4 p.m. Admission is free.