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Artinfo.com bashes the Vegas art scene without even looking at it

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Stephen Hendee’s “Monument to the Simulacrum”

A cheeky little story popped up on artinfo.com today that rips into Las Vegas’ art scene, calling it a half-baked idea.

Sure, comparatively, we suck. We know that, but the degree of our suckiness is not accurately measured in the article written by Julia Halperin, who writes that when in town last week, she “scoured the Strip for any signs of remaining cultural life now that much of the city's cultural funding and many of its art professionals have left the area.”

This is a common problem in Las Vegas. First of all, the Strip is not in the city, it’s in the county. And the Strip is not the community. The Strip is a tourist corridor. Furthermore, the Vegas arts scene isn't really on the Strip.

It’s pointless to have our undies in a knot because we know we’re easy prey. In fact, attacking Las Vegas has become a cliché pastime for the lazy. But when Halperin wrote, “Whatever art is left in Vegas won't be there for long,” you’re sort of wondering if she somehow missed Cosmopolitan’s new collection of digital art and its partnership with New York's nonprofit Art Production Fund or Aaron Sheppard's exhibit at Centerpiece Gallery. I'm guessing that she did because she didn’t even bother to slam them the way she did the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art’s Figuratively Speaking exhibit, attributing the curation of the exhibit to a color-coordinated effort. (I guess we’re not supposed to show work out of chronological order?)

James Rosenquist's 'Cervello Spazio Cosmico'

James Rosenquist's 'Cervello Spazio Cosmico'

Also, it might have been less harsh had Halperin stayed Strip specific -- scouring the Strip for art is much like looking for beat poetry readings at Disneyland. But she brought up the departure of Dave Hickey and Libby Lumpkin, mentioned Brett Wesley and Emergency Arts. She didn’t, however, include the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and its growing collection that includes a recently commissioned James Rosenquist, a Peter Alexander sculpture and a small consignment collection that is available for public tours. The exhibits at our cultural centers and the gallery at the Springs Preserve were probably too much of a drive.

Maybe she couldn’t get away from all the eye candy on the Strip, a problem she surmises is the reason Vegas’ art scene is on its way out: “Viewing art requires concentration, effort, and allowing the possibility of discomfort — the very three things most people are visiting Vegas to escape.”

Moving art: The digital art in the Cosmopolitan's lobby is sure to get visitors talking.

Too bad she didn’t stop in at the Contemporary Arts Center on Charleston Boulevard to see It’s All a Blur, a SOMArts Cultural Center touring exhibit featuring works by Tony Labat, Dale Hoyt and Guillermo Gómez-Peña. I wonder if she saw the Oldenburg at UNLV that is now celebrating its 30th year or the Stephen Hendee sculpture at Centennial Plaza.

Drop us a line next time you come out. We’ll show you around.

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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