Churchill Arts Council
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Contact the Churchill Arts Council

Sophie Sheppard, Night Dune
watercolor on paper, 42 × 35 inches

Physical Address
Oats Park Art Center
151 East Park Street · Fallon, Nev. 89406
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Contact Information

P. O. Box 2204 · Fallon, Nev. 89407

Art Center Hours

  • • In general, the Art Center’s Box Office, Art Bar and Galleries open at 6pm and performances start at 7pm.
  • • Visual & literary arts events are held from 5-7pm.
  • • Doors open for films at 6pm and begin at 7pm.
  • • Please call or email us to set up an appointment if you wish to visit outside of these days and times.

Additional Information
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View the Barkley Theatre Seating Chart
Download the 2023-24 Season Brochure
Learn About Membership & Volunteer Opportunities
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Churchill Arts Council Staff

Jessica Rowe, Executive Director
Val Swirczek, Admin & Events Coordinator
Ryan Swirczek, Operations Manager
Lynne Plumb, ChArts Store Manager

Churchill Arts Council Founders

Photo courtesy of Lynn Campion

Valerie J. Serpa (1954-2021)
Founding Executive Director

Valerie J. Serpa was born in Fallon, Nevada, to Joe Serpa Jr. and Joann Sever Serpa. As a Native Nevadan, she treasured Nevada – particularly its eclectic and lively rural towns. Her early years were spent on the family land where hay and cattle were part of the family business. Following high school graduation, she purchased the Serpa family home, birthplace of her father. Over the years, she remodeled and renovated her home and surrounding property to honor the original architecture and to encapsulate a most outstanding collection of art. Valerie continued to build upon her passion for culture, history, and art by earning a degree in Art History and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Nevada, Reno, followed by a graduate degree in Visual Culture from Antioch University.

Valerie’s passion for the arts was instrumental in the formation of the Churchill Arts Council in 1986. Shortly after, she met the love of her life, Kirk Robertson, and they would spend their lives together devoted to this renowned nonprofit arts organization. Valerie and Kirk shared their vision for an arts community and helped to renovate Oats Park School into the Oats Park Art Center complete with a performing arts theatre, visual art galleries, a museum store, and a café and catering kitchen – all available to their community and beyond. As founding Executive Director of the Council, Valerie continued on with their shared lifework following Kirk’s death in 2017. She was instrumental in procuring funding for not only the renovations, but also the ongoing season programming that highlighted visual, performing, and literary arts.

One of her greatest pastimes was poring over the incredible collection of books she and Kirk had amassed. Her intelligence about art and culture was awe-inspiring. She loved poetry – particularly Kirk’s own published works. Kirk was the poet. Valerie was the poem.

Valerie also loved to travel, and she and Kirk visited several countries, taking in art, cuisine, and beauty. They often traveled to New York to visit friends and take in the performances of artists to showcase at the Oats Park Art Center.

A world-class cook, Valerie was well-known for her fabulous gatherings of family and friends, where guests shared food and lively discussions. The food she prepared with so much love and served with home-spun yet worldly flair, was unparalleled. Her flower and vegetable gardens sprang forth bounties of beauty. Valerie was a most welcoming and loving hostess. You always left wanting to return.

Valerie’s kind and loving heart, and fabulous smile, will long be treasured by those that were fortunate enough to have crossed paths with her. She loved her family and friends, and cared deeply for her menagerie of cats, horses, donkeys, chickens, and beloved peacocks. She wanted nothing more than to bring family and friends together and to share her love of the arts.

Kirk Robertson (1946-2017)
Founding Program Director

Kirk Robertson was born in Los Angeles to Jack Thomas Robertson and Maydee Star Galloway Robertson. He moved around the West before settling in Fallon in 1975. Along the way, he earned a degree in Language and Literature from California State University, Long Beach, where he studied with well-known poet Gerald Locklin. Kirk’s own poetry, as evidenced in the more than 20 published collections of his work, has its roots in the “plainspoken” tradition of Locklin and his close friend Charles Bukowski, as well as in the more formal and minimalist style of Robert Creeley. These esteemed mentors certainly influenced Kirk’s work, but his poems were wholly his own: honestly accessible, as direct and lean as Kirk himself and also inviting and rich – as he most certainly was. His poems are one of his largest gifts; they invite readers in, ask them to think, question, feel, and respond. Kirk’s literary work truly celebrated the often stark beauty of the American West, how this place is both brutal and tender. Kirk won many deserved accolades for his literary work: in 1981, he was awarded the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and in 1994, he was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, just to mention two of his numerous honors. One recognition that Kirk was particularly fond of was his Wormwood Award for the Most Overlooked Book of Note – he had a sly sense of humor, indeed. His most recent book, How the Light Gets In: New and Collected Poems 1969-2014 (Black Rock Press) allows his readers to hold the essence of this brilliant man in their hands.

In addition to his prodigious literary work, Kirk made a full life in the arts, giving his time and energy to a great number of programs and institutions. Founder of Scree magazine and Duckdown Press, Kirk made it his mission to get the work of others published, and he was never too busy to talk about poetry and the arts. He wrote about the visual arts for a number of publications and agencies, including Yellowstone Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Lake Worth, Fla.), Sheppard Gallery at the University of Nevada, Reno, Artweek, the Reno News & Review, and his weekly column, “Sounding,” for the Lahontan Valley News. He was also the editor of neon, the journal of the Nevada Arts Council, which was the only state arts publication of its kind and quality in the United States. Having worked in arts administration since 1976, Kirk served the Nevada Arts Council from 1984-1992 as both Director of Individual & Community Programs and Director of Projects. Thereafter he became the Program Director for the Churchill Arts Council, where he was responsible for development, coordination, and fundraising for the Council’s programs, including the capital campaign for the adaptive re-use and rehabilitation of Oats Park School into the Oats Park Art Center.

In addition to his work with the Churchill Arts Council, Kirk was a founding board member of the Nevada Statewide Arts Assembly. In Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin wrote this: “I consider that I have many responsibilities, but none greater than this: to last, as Hemingway says, and get my work done. I want to be an honest man and a good writer.” Everyone who knew Kirk, and everyone who will come to know him through his work, knows that he will last, that he always got his work done, that he was an honest man and a significant writer.

National Endowment for the Arts City of Fallon Nevada Arts Council Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority WESTAF

Nevada Humanities Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation Nevada Division of Tourism Lahontan Valley News The Fallon Post Great Basin Brewing Company

Thank You Sponsors & Partners

Churchill Arts Council programs and activities are sponsored, in part, by: an American Rescue Plan Act grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support general operating expenses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the City of Fallon; the Nevada Arts Council; the Fallon Convention & Tourism Authority; TourWest / WESTAF; Nevada Humanities; the Depot Casino / Widmer & Mills, CPAs; Mackedon deBraga Law, P. C.; the Bretzlaff Foundation; the E. L. Cord Foundation; the Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation; Churchill County; the Nevada Commission on Tourism; Speedway Market; Lahontan Valley News; the Fallon Post; CC Communications; and Holiday Inn Express.

The free performances by Blair Crimmins & the Hookers and William Elliot Whitmore are presented in cooperation with the Mayor, City Council, and City of Fallon.

Copyright © 1987–2024 Churchill Arts Council. All rights reserved.