Sign with stickers next to mural by Tarek Benaoum.
On yet another visit to the urban art lab of downtown Las Vegas, I followed my map to scout progress of post-museum art of stickers and stencils in the 18b, the Las Vegas Arts District. Those leave-behinds, which we can presume are not sanctioned, seem to be tolerated since they identify the area as an experimental art zone. They are branding the creative blocks, so to speak. As you recall, the 18b sits between The Strip and downtown’s Fremont Street Experience, and home to graffiti / murals in public view. (The street art south of the Fremont Experience, were curated by Rise Above and under the guardianship of Downtown Project). Here are some shots taken Sunday around the 18b.
The Stencil Network surviving the elements.
Tarek Benaoum loves Las Vegas. Photo: paintthisdesert.com
In the 18b arts district, this pink weave of “everybody loves somebody” caught my eye, a detail from a new mural that extents a larger composition to environment by connecting the piece to the even pinker wall of Retro Las Vegas, located within the sightline. At first glance, I thought RETNA (Marquis Lewis) made a visit and used the wall for his geometric based calligraphy, (which you can see locally in the parking garage of the Cosmopolitan. )
But there's a different kinetic outburst in this piece. It's by Tarek Benaoum, the Parisian artist once known as “CLONE,” who was in town on a commission for nightclub Foxtail at the recently opened SLS.
Vegas Seven arts editor Cindi Reed took her “fading knowledge of French” to speak with the artist’s interior work that “finds inspiration for his calligraphy murals in the location itself.” For Foxtail, Benaoum says the SLS, the former Saraha, inspired passages that reflect the “old soul” of Las Vegas. Reed writes:
Evidence of an Old Vegas past include “little winks” at Elvis and Le Rat Pack, including a giant rendition of the song title “Fly Me to the Moon.” Benaoum’s favorite Rat Pack member is Frank Sinatra because of his mobbed-up glamour, and this Frenchman’s fascination with our local history reflects through the theme of the mural in a way that is oddly satisfying, even flattering.
Benaoum's mural on E.California, between S. Main Street and S. Casino Center Blvd.
Tarek Benaoum in the 18b arts district. Photo paintthisdesert.com
Vegas Shoe. North end of Las Vegas, 2012. Courtesy Antonio Gomez.
FIELD NOTES: A June 2014 visit to the office of photographer Antonio Gomez came after being introduced to his color work in his solo show,”Six Years of Solitude,” an exhibition at Brett Wesley gallery a year earlier. His series of isolated Luche Libre was based on a childhood recall of “El Blue Demon” and is stirring emotional work from an artist who dealt with solitude during uncertain migration to the U.S. from Mexico.
During the visit Gomez shared other sets, including one that is a recurring theme from artists working in Las Vegas; the juxtaposition of reality and the simulated. That set by Gomez is now featured online at National Geographic’s “Focus.”
When choosing which images to pair, Gomez considers three approaches. Along the lines of contrast, Gomez juxtaposes scenes that highlight the contradictory nature of Las Vegas, often building on the theme of Vegas as an adult playground. The second category is comprised of scenes that are physically or psychologically related, such as a similar object in a different context.
That June visit also introduced me to his series of Mexican charrerías, or rodeos, that’s a contemporary connection to Mexican cinema, and by no accident, a connection to the compositions of Los Tres Grandes, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Siqueiros.
Gomez teaches photography at CSN.
Jackie Gendel "The Carried Man" (2012)
UNLV's Visiting Artist Lecture Series begins Sept. 4 with Jackie Gendel, the painter who, as Ryan E. Steadman once wrote in Art Forum, "blends the impudent draftsmanship and audacious color of the Fauvists with a knack of caricature akin to New Yorker Cartoonist Rea Irvin." It opens the 2014 series that commits to a "diverse array of some of the most compelling artists and thinkers working in the art world today." The month fills out with talks from Joan Linder and her quill pen and ink complexity (Sept. 11), ceramic wunderkind Matt Wedel (Sept. 18), and animator Chris Sullivan (Sept. 25). Tony Tasset opens October's line-up. The lectures are Thursday evenings starting at 7 p.m. and open to the public.
Seminar in Visual Arts
Fall 2014 Lecture Series.
Jackie Gendel (Painting) Sept. 4
Joan Linder (Drawing) Sept. 11
Matt Wedel (Ceramics) Sept. 18
Chris Sullivan (Animation) Sept. 25
Tony Tasset (Sculpture) Oct. 2
Julie Saul (Photo Gallery) Oct. 9
Wesley Anderegg (Ceramics) Oct. 16
Siobhan Piercy (Print) Oct. 23
Andre Goeritz (Sculpture) Oct. 30
Hugh Davies (MCASD Director) Nov. 6
Jenni Sorkin (Art Historian) Nov. 13
Robert Beckmann (Painting) Nov. 20
ADD: Patrick C. Duffy, president of the Las Vegas Art Museum board, has been named chairman of the UNLV Galleries board, reports UNLV College of Fine Arts.