Submitted by Mary Marinello
Saturday, Feb. 12 will be a big day in Walker Lake as the owners David and Maryknoll Bowen celebrate the grand opening of Bizarre 101. The gallery features an eclectic array of works from local artists. However, Bizarre 101 is much more than that. It is the completion and transformation of a roofless block auto shop into a lovely muraled building that is a piece of art in itself. It has taken several years and countless hours, but the Bowens have turned a tear down into a treasure. And this treasure is also their home.
In 2016, the Bowens hit the road in their RV for retirement bliss. They did not anticipate the adventure that laid before them. They headed out to tour the country with the goal to find a new place to settle. At that time one of David’s criteria was that he did not want to settle in Florida or Nevada due to the heat nor did he want to buy the first home they loved. They had made it as far as Las Vegas from Laguna Beach and decided to drive to Reno. Looking for somewhere in the middle to stop and camp, they choose Walker Lake. They had never seen or heard of Walker Lake. The original plan was to just camp overnight, but they were overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded them. The mountains and sky were mirrored perfectly in Walker Lake’s waters, the sun rises were spectacular, and seagulls filled the air. They decided to camp for a few more days and explore the area. They found a home they liked but decided to still look at property going north. While driving in Reno, they just couldn’t forget Walker Lake. They had fallen in love with its beauty. So, they returned to buy “The first home they fell in love with”.
The home only needed some paint and polish to occupy. But in true David and Maryknoll style they did more. It is a lovely home that has one of the best views of Walker Lake. A year later, they saw the potential in a property around the corner. There was a very large, detached garage, ideal for David to create his art, and a rundown double wide. Some might have seen the double wide as demolition ready, but not Maryknoll and David. They saw her good bones. With a lot of hard work, a lovely cottage was reborn. When the rebuild was complete they moved in.
Now for many couples that might have been enough renovating, remodeling and moving, but not for the Bowens. While on a walk in the neighborhood they took a closer look at 101 Kalarney. This property sat adjacent to Highway 95 and was directly below their cottage. It had been abandoned for years. The block building was full of trash and the roof had blown off. There was a derelict single wide on its side. The property was a mess. However, Maryknoll saw a lot of potential. David asked her, “Do we really want to do this?” and they did. She admits they really didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. She admits, “It was a four-year labor of love.”
They started the cleanup on the property with the intention of transforming the building into a gallery for David’s artwork. Once the roof was finished, they decided to also build a residence in the gallery. Today they have a lovely two-story apartment within the original block building. First floor has a large open plan kitchen, dining, living area and public bath. Upstairs is David’s office, a sunroom with a full view of the lake, master bedroom and bath.
Bizarre 101 as home and gallery is full of art inside and out. Local artists’ work includes paintings, watercolor, ceramics, jewelry, textiles, metal sculpture, collections from community members and a Model A. The building exterior is painted in an Indian geometric motif. On the north-facing wall is a mural of Togwa, by Shelley Hartman. According to legend,Togwa, also known as Cecil, is the serpent living in Walker Lake. The building was a diamond in the rough that is now shining.
What makes Bizarre 101 truly special for the couple is what it represents in the support and love that has been given to them. The Walker Lake community, friends and neighbors have given so much including appliances, cabinetry, furniture, time and talent. As Maryknoll said, “It was really an outreach to us from the community, the gift of their generosity was just amazing.”
David and Maryknoll have lived very full lives. When I asked David how long he had been working in the art world he said, “Since I was ten.” Truly his life has been devoted to art. His work in Commercial, Art Digital Art and Graphic Designs is now available in Walker Lake. Maryknoll had her successful career in the corporate world. They have both owned and run other businesses alone and together. Owning and running Bizarre 101 is different because it is a community project. They want it to become a gathering place for friends and neighbors, a place for potlucks, coffees and teas. They want artists to show their work and prosper.
Please come and join David and Maryknoll Feb. 12 for the grand opening and ribbon cutting. Festivities will begin at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bizarre 101 is located on the west side of Highway 95, in the center of town.