Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Art in the desert

During my visit in Las Vegas, I wondered where this city of almost two millions inhabitants and thousands of visitors was hiding art.

My search on the Internet before the trip was pretty discouraging. The Las Vegas Art Museum and the Southern Nevada Museum of Art located for a while in the Neonopolis are closed since 2009.
The Bellagio's art gallery is also closed. I was told by the concierge that it would reopen the 1st of May for a new exhibition.

Well, what is happening on the art scene in Las Vegas? I just read that the architect Frank Gehry who designed the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Cent for Brain Health, just completed, likes it!

But I can see unfinished buildings and The City Center, whose story has been filling the pages of the Wall Street Journal, is one of them. It appears near completion. I visited the site and got my first impression: big, a city within the city. Not revolutionary in design, it boosts to be in technology and is a "green complex of buildings". The numbers are staggering: 76 acres, the biggest, the most expensive, a 40 million dollars art collection with a sculpture from Maya Lin, a painting from Frank Stella in a lobby, works from Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg...

I stumbled on the unavoidable sculpture from Moore in a courtyard. The place is so gigantic that the art is lost in the decorations and becomes decoration itself.

Will visitors come just to see the art? I did. I found the architecture. It is a new flavor for Las Vegas, away from the playful themes of the other casinos.

The economy has whipped out the art in the community, so complaints the local newspaper. .
Which makes us reflect on art and the economy... or the community?
I guess, the function of the city is not conducive to the art.

The rooms I am sitting in the whole day listening to a conference, are called: Titian, Veronese, Bellini...

I will have to cross this hall to reach the casino,
Las Vegas (The Strip) after all, is a big amusement park for adults.

photographs by the author

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