Sunday, June 11, 2006

Last Words Before Leaving Sin City: Letter to the Las Vegas Weekly

This will be the last post of the vacation. We leave tomorrow, and I will be killed if time is spent blogging rather then packing. So on that note, a last post about the Vegas art scene.

The Las Vegas Weekly had an article on the arts scene last week. Its moderately contentious take was that there was an arts rivelary, high-art vs. low-brow. That eternal debate will rage on as long as snotty kids and up-tight art patrons both grab at the last glass of free wine offered at art galleries.

I had to put my 2 cents. While I didn't get my letter to the editor published, the letters that did were pretty close to what I had to say. So, that being said, here's what I had to say...

"As a former art installer at the Las Vegas Art Museum and LV
Guggenheim, I had to comment. While no longer a resident, my return
to Vegas for a summer vacation has me seeing Vegas's cultural
offerings after a 9-month absence.

High culture/high art will always have a home in every city's art
scene because it is the most accomplished and engaging. But the
high-kitsch/pop culture quality the city is nationally known for is
one that local artists can pull inspiration from. Art collector Wally
Goodman once said while speaking at Godt-Cleary, "Collect what you
love." For many it is easy to love the widely-varied and
affordably-priced works that can be found on the street during First
Friday. As an owner of eight Shan Michael pieces (and one new
t-shirt, thanks Shan) I love his works and look forward to seeing his
continuing success.

I think it's great that there is an open marketplace for art in Vegas
that allows a purchase starting at $20. The variety of prices and
stylistic offerings is cultivating buyers of art who otherwise would
not be inclined or be able to afford such a expense. Young collectors
may turn into clients for the new higher-end galleries. And for those
complaining about the lowest common denominator attending their
openings, I heard no comment of how that is impacting their bottom
line. It's difficult to sympathize with their struggle; they can lock
their doors if they are so bothered.

It is encouraging to see the deep roots that the CAC, Arts Factory and
the Funkhouse have grown and maintained. Opening around these
established institutions and businesses are new generations of
additions, first like Dust and GC Arts, and now the Avant Arts
gallery, Holsum Lofts and Commerce Street Studios. Whoever their
target demographic, it is good that these venues are filling
storefronts within the Arts District and nearby areas.

Las Vegas will never turn into LA or NYC in terms of the broad
cultural offerings these cities have been developing for decades. But
I hear from friends that Libby Lumpkin is turning the Las Vegas Art
Museum into one worthy of being the city's representative museum.
Additionally, Vegas is host to both its own unique Guggenheim venue
and home to the Pinball Hall of Fame and the Atomic Testing Museum.
That unique diversity deserves some celebration.

After this vacation, I look forward to returning to Atlanta to be a
cheerleader for Las Vegas artists and galleries and an advocate for
the city as a worthwhile destination to those looking for an
unexpected place for culture and art."

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Amen Brother. That article bothered me- I do not recall the author mentioning how two of our best galleries (G-C and Dust) are right next to the street fair. And how these galleries are intentionally outside the Arts Factory. But why would these facts be reported? To do so would undermine the whole North vs. South civil war that some people apparently want!