“My whole adult career in the arts has been a mix of intense creativity, ingenuity, self-starting, entrepreneurship, and connections.”
Kelly Cassidy is an artist and owner of Kelly Smith Cassidy Fine Art where she creates welded bronze and copper sculptures using gas welding equipment, as well as working as a graphic designer, writer, astrology reader, and yoga teacher. Kelly gives back to the community she loves by volunteering her time with Tahoe Art League and Bring Arts to School, and donating her art to local non-profits for fundraising efforts.
Congratulations to this week’s 40 under 40 honoree, Kelly Cassidy!
Can you tell us a little about your responsibilities and accomplishments in your current position?
Having been a second-generation career artist since I was 17, my responsibilities are really all pretty much what I put onto my own shoulders. Growing up in a professional artist’s home, I had learned very early on how to make and sell my work. My whole adult career in the arts has been a mix of intense creativity, ingenuity, self-starting, entrepreneurship, and connections. In a way, there is a lot of bravery involved with my line of work. I have to be vulnerable but also steadfast at the same time.
I set my own hours in my work and, as any entrepreneur can tell you, I can just as easily work more than 40 hours a week. My studio is at my home and I create my welded bronze and copper sculptures using gas welding equipment. I learned this technique from my parents who also create one-of-a-kind sculptures. I spend a good amount of time making proposals to clients through digital sketches and searching out new artistic opportunities as well.
I do part-time work as a graphic designer creating posters. logos, advertisements, business cards and other graphic work.
I am also a writer having written dozens of articles in the past for Mt. News as well as for Tahoe Quarterly and the Tahoe Tribune. I am currently writing a non-fiction spirituality book.
Since 1999, I have given astrology readings and taught astrology. Astrology is one of my big passions and I have learned from many astrologers over the years. I did the Apprenticeship Program with famed astrologer, Steven Forrest with whom I had apprenticed with for about 13 years. I love giving readings to people and them really connect with their inner being. I am currently writing a book on astrology.
I have taught yoga and meditation classes and am making aims to teach again in the near future.
What has been your favorite professional moment in the last year?
I’d have to say creating an installation piece for Burning Man 2019 was my favorite professional moment of last year, if not of my whole life. Burning Man had put out a call for the first ever civic park at the Burning Man event. A place where people could gather at the Man Pavilion where “the Man” is situated. I created a design for three, semi-circular, three- tiered, 25’ in diameter seating areas. They were made of marine-grade wood for longevity outside of Burning Man, acrylic panels and 111 LED lights. Atop each seating area were five giant cloth flowers that lit up with LED’s. I had a main build crew of four dedicated souls- all locals- whom I worked with in Washoe Valley to create the installation and several additional crew to help transport and install the piece at Burning Man.
Seeing this piece “in action” with people sitting on it, enjoying it, was very fulfilling for me. I loved that I was able to create this piece for allowing people to gather. I have been doing things my whole life to have people gather and this was a very tangible creation of that same impetus. Working with my crew was also an amazing experience with our bond becoming stronger through this project.
This was my second grant piece through Burning Man. My first grant piece was a wooden female robot effigy called “Creu Hudol” (Welsh for “Magical Being”) which was placed on the Man Base at Burning Man 2018 and burned along with The Man at the end of the event.
I received an Honoraria Grant through Burning Man this year for an installation piece called, “Infinite Stare”. This installation, which has now been postponed to 2021 due to the cancellation of Burning Man 2020, will be my third grant piece at Burning Man.
Each year, approximately 750 letters of intent for installation pieces from artists are sent into Burning Man for consideration with approximately 70 chosen each year. Last year, there were three Tahoe grantee artists chosen for Burning Man 2019; all of us female and all welders. I feel very honored to have my work chosen for installation at Burning Man.
Do you have a professional/life mantra that you live by?
Be unselfishly loving in the world. I don’t really strive to “make” things happen anymore. I live a life of creation and connection and the opportunities may appear seemingly “magically”. But it’s really just being completely present in the moment and being loving and helpful towards my fellow humans. If something seems overly selfish, I just don’t do it because it serves nothing but ego.
I pay close attention to the words of sages of old and new such as Eckhart Tolle. “To love is to recognize yourself in another.” ― Eckhart Tolle
“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” ― Eckhart Tolle
Who is your role model?
My parents are my role models. They taught me balance in all things and have always been supportive. They are fair and loving in their whole beings.
I also look to spiritual teachers past and present for personal growth.
Why choose Tahoe to make your home and career?
Being in Tahoe just sort of “happened” in my life. My dad came to Tahoe as a teenager with his family in the mid 50s on a road trip. The area made such an impression on my dad that he brought his own family to Tahoe for the summers starting in the 1970s. I followed in their footsteps being a professional artist in their same media of metal and so we all came together to Tahoe in order to escape the Phoenix heat (our autumn-spring home) and work together in a summer studio nestled amongst the mountains. We rented a new home every summer for decades. In 2010 I met my future husband in a spiritual development class in Meyers and decided to stay. The mountains, trees and lake all give me so much inspiration for my work.
Are you active in any volunteer roles or community groups?
I had been on the board of the Tahoe Art League for several years serving in different roles with the last being as President of The Board.
I am the co-founder of Tahoe Writers Group; a group of writers who gather together to workshop each others writing.
I had been active in the past with Bring Arts to School teaching art to elementary students and have recently set out on my own to support art in schools.
I donate my art to several organizations for their fundraising efforts such as Soroptimist, Kiwana’s, Rotary and for Vagina Monologues’ annual event in February which I have also been a part of as a cast member.
I like to work “behind the scenes” a lot for charitable organizations creating fliers, posters and helping in other ways that I can.
I am very active in the Burning Man community and through their outreach efforts in Burners Without Borders.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I love to read and write and study anything on spirituality. I go through about 2 books a week on audible while working in my studio during the busy seasons. I am working on a non- fiction book right now that I hope to complete by the end of the year.
Cooking has become something that I continue to learn about and improve my skills. I love making dinner parties for friends and family. I can get really lost in the creation of something special. Magical things happen when people gather around food made with intention and love.
I am a big traveler having been to 15 countries. I love to see how other cultures live in the world. Some of my favorite places I have visited so far: Scotland, Egypt and Spain. But even a simple road trip is awesome! Something about putting yourself in new environments is appealing to me.
I used to be a yoga teacher and I now practice yoga at home and meditate daily. I love just hanging out with my husband, Kevin (a local dentist) and our Golden Retriever, Kodiak. We love to hike, watch movies and simply being in nature together.
Where are your favorite South Shore stomping grounds?
Our home really is where my heart is. As much as I like to travel, and be social in town during events, on the flip side of it is that I love my downtime. I like to say that our home is my favorite movie theater, restaurant, resort and coffee shop 🙂 I like to feel cozy at home with my husband and our dog just being and watching our amazing view.
Our neighborhood, Al Tahoe is wonderful. I really enjoy just walking through the streets seeing all of the unique homes and seeing the activity in the commercial areas. We have Sprouts, Yellow Sub and Revive right around the corner from our house, two public beaches less than a block away, great boutique shopping at places like Connie’s Clothesline, Wildwood Makers Mart and Gaialicious.
My husband and I attend a lot of charity events through the year in our community. We especially love going to The Soroptimists Food and Wine Tasting event.
I love walking in nature and in our Al Tahoe neighborhood, being on the beach and hanging out in our 1908 floored-in boathouse over the lake.
I also enjoy going to local workshops in yoga and spirituality.