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If you've been to a show in Denton or seen a Denton band recently, there's a good chance you've also seen the work of visual artist and printmaker Nevada Hill. Hill's intricate, hand-drawn images can be seen on record covers and posters for bands such as Record Hop, Dust Congress and Tre Orsi, as well as venue concert posters for Secret Headquarters, Rubber Gloves and Strawberry Fields, among others. Hill's also contributed to a large mural near Fry Street.
I have lost track of the number of times in the past few months that a musician or venue owner has handed me new promotional material and said, with an almost reverent tone, "Nevada did this."
It's easy to see why Denton musicians take a large amount of pride in the work Hill does for them. He has an uncanny ability to weave text and image together into an evocative whole, and the amount of detail in his work evinces a strong commitment and desire to convey something of the music or event the piece is associated with. In fact, Hill, also a musician and member of the band Zanzibar Snails, doesn't really separate music and images in his mind. "To me printmaking and art and music go hand in hand," he says as we sit outside Wine Squared in Denton where, incidentally, some of his work hangs on the wall. "A band is a complete art project. The aural and visual components are part of the same thing."
Hill, a graduate of the University of North Texas art department, often listens to the band he has been commissioned to work for while he draws, to help evoke a feeling for the work's overall composition. The results tend to be mostly abstract and undeniably musical; words sometimes rushing up into a tangled, grassy, mushroom-like figure, or wrapped around hard geometric shapes perched atop painstakingly-shaded, root-like folds. No one piece is entirely like the next, and yet they are all unmistakably Hill's. Each work, he says, needs to feel like a single idea: "I try to make the image logical, to make sense on a rational level."
A self-confessed devotee of the DIY ethic, Hill owns his own printmaking equipment and works out of a dirt-floor, hornet-infested garage. "I've been stung,"" Hill says, "and sometimes insects will fly into the screen."
Ultimately, he hopes that his work provides much more than just a visual accessory to Denton's music community. "I want Denton to see more handmade objects," he says. "When someone sees more effort put into a work, either they make excuses or they say, 'I can do that,' and put more effort into their own work."