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Art

Fore! Art

LVAM looks for a home, and residents come up with an idea

Kate Silver

Last week, David Caldwell discovered a side of himself that had been latent, if not nonexistent, for years. He found himself playing the role of matchmaker. Not for two people, however. Instead, he and his roommate, Mike Wille, created a cyber marriage proposal for the Las Vegas Art Museum and the Las Vegas National Golf Course.

The three-and-a-half-minute invitation (idea.savethecourse.com) includes quotes from the Las Vegas Sun and by Las Vegas Art Museum Director Libby Lumpkin, along with varying works of art and photos of museums, set to the tune of “Sunday” by Stephen Sondheim. “The Las Vegas Art Museum Golf Course,” the video suggests. “Perhaps a sculpture park?”

It’s quirky and sweet and completely out of the blue, considering Caldwell had yet to propose it to either party directly involved before circulating the video in an e-mail.

Caldwell came up with the idea after reading that the Las Vegas Art Museum had opted out of leasing the All-American Sports Park, instead looking for a permanent location. As a homeowner within Paradise Palms, a 48-year-old community of mid-century modern homes surrounding the Las Vegas National Golf Course, Caldwell thought of moving the Las Vegas Art Museum into his neighborhood. “San Francisco has a golf course and a museum combo,” he says. “Seattle has a museum and an art sculpture together.” The logic follows: Why not us?

Of course, there are other motives at work here. The golf course is owned by investors, and it’s zoned residential. Caldwell and his neighbors worry that if the golf course doesn’t turn a big enough profit, it will be sold to developers, filling their backyards with fields of stucco and erasing the rich history of the links.

The course was designed by Bert Stamps and opened in 1961 as the Stardust Country Club. Arnold Palmer and David Graham have both played here, and it’s been a popular spot for PGA and LPGA events. The houses surrounding the course have been homes to Ginger Rogers, Diana Ross, Shirley MacLaine, Sammy Davis Jr., Mac Davis and more.

In an effort to save the open space, Caldwell began sharing his idea with his neighbors, but didn’t feel as though he was getting his point across effectively.

“I started writing an e-mail about it, and the e-mail became very long and very convoluted. None of us really have time to sort through that stuff. So that’s when I got the idea of putting it together in sort of a web visual to get the message out there.”

The e-mail made its way around town, including to the inboxes of the people at the Las Vegas Art Museum. “It was really sweet,” says Director Libby Lumpkin. “It just made my day.”

Lumpkin has been busy looking for a home for the museum, specifically in the Downtown area. “We are very busy trying to figure out the perfect place,” she says. “And honestly, the video that went around is a manifestation of something that’s been happening since we made the announcement. A lot of people have come forward saying they have a piece of property here and it can be discounted or it can be given to us. … Everybody wants us in their neighborhood. So that has been truly gratifying.”

Lumpkin loves the idea of the Las Vegas Art Museum Golf Course, but she acknowledges that it was put together by two men who don’t actually own the golf course.

So what do the owners think?

Las Vegas National Golf Course investor John Knott was taken by surprise by the video, which he received by e-mail. “Nobody’s even talked to me, so I don’t know what to think,” he says. Knott is upfront that the golf course is a business investment, but concedes that the idea of a museum there is “creative.”

“If it’s funded properly, sure,” he says.   

As it stands, he’s in no hurry to convert the land from a golf course. In fact, he’s doing everything in his power to make the golf course succeed. Harrah’s recently began managing it, and Knott and his partners are in the process of remodeling the clubhouse and improving the food and beverage elements.

“We’re not in any hurry. We’re going to give it everything we can to keep it a golf course,” he says.

No need to rush it. Every matchmaker has learned that perfect pairings have to happen at their own pace.

To learn more, go to savethecourse.com.

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

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