FIELD NOTES: My practice to randomly discover public art took an obvious path this past weekend. On morning I drove along Martin Luther King (Jr.) Boulevard to see what I could find, and to revisit the statue by late artist Tina Allen at MLK and West Carey Avenue. Dedicated in January 2001, the epic statue of King in judicial robes holding a globe sits in a plaza that features quotes by the civil rights leader. According to a Facebook page dedicated to the statue, those are Coretta Scott King Roses blooming at the base, and volunteers meet to maintain the area. The North Las Vegas site has also become a gathering spot for vigils.
Smaller Scale: Down the road a utility box painted by Mario Smith for ZAP in 2010 is holding up well.
Quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. encircle the plaza facing the statue of King.
ZAP 3 box by Mario Smith at Martin Luther King Boulevard and West Washington Avenue. MLK Blvd stretches from West Craig Road in North Las Vegas though West Las Vegas, a historically African-American community, and ends alongside Interstate 15 at West Oakey Boulevard.
Kara Joslyn (detail) courtesy the artist and Mark Moore Fine Art.
The process of artists, Mexican masks, and Salvador Dali as a page-turner are the three exhibitions sharing the opening reception, "One Night / Three Exhibitions / Fifty Years," at the Barrick Museum of Art. The evening opens a year of programming marking fifty years of the UNLV institution first established on Maryland Parkway by the Desert Research Institute to exhibit and house its collection. Ownership of the collection was transferred to UNLV, and in 1975 the museum took up residency in the original gym renamed the UNLV Museum of Natural History. In 2012 The Barrick refocused its mission to serve primarily as a contemporary art museum.
The programming and rotating exhibitions make the museum an art lab for UNLV's College of Fine Arts, and students from CSN and NSC. It's now under the watch of Alisha Kerlin, interim director of the Barrick. "It’s really important to see artwork in person. I remember the first time I saw an artwork in person that I had only seen in a flat magazine," Kerlin says in an recent interview at Las Vegas Weekly "It was a crazy experience. And we get to see a version of that here almost every day when we’re busy—we get to see people have those reactions."
"One Night / Three Exhibitions / Fifty Years" at The Barrick Museum of Art will be held on Friday, January 27, 2017 from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibition information below comes from The Barrick.
Kim Rugg, Sunset Wave, 2011, reconfigured postage stamp and envelope, 8 x 12.5 inches
"Process" Curated by Matthew Gardocki: Featuring work by: John Bauer, Chris Duncan, Kara Joslyn, Lester Monzon, Julie Oppermann, Kim Rugg, Christopher Russell, Heidi Schwegler, Meghan Smythe, and Ryan Wallace, courtesy of Mark Moore Fine Art. Visitors can expect to encounter a fresh and perhaps unfamiliar field of art-making in which energy is celebrated and the finished object is not always the principal focus. On view in the Barrick Museum’s Main Gallery.
"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here" Curated by Lee Cannarozzo: Four books, two classic texts. Twice a week we will turn the pages to reveal new illustrations from Salvador Dali’s little-known print series for Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. A part of the Las Vegas Art Museum collection currently housed in the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, these books will be presented together in dynamic proximity. The display will be accompanied by a compelling program of film screenings and public readings. On view in the Barrick Museum’s Teaching Gallery.
Kenny Scharf "wallworks" mural at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Photo I PtD.
When local street art aficionados read the new bio “Kenny Scharf: In Absence of Myth” by G. James Daichendt, they may wonder if the artist should be headlining the garage under the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
That’s where infamous street artists were invited to be part of “Wallworks” in 2011. The installations have an informal hierarchy. The floors that fill up fast, and have more eyes for the elevator entrance where the murals are featured, an appropriately underground location, has Shepard Fairey and Retna adding to their myth.
Their floors are above Scharf's images of animated faces, squiggles, and "Las Vegas" in toonesque letters, a personal style that came from loving animation as a child living in cul-de-sac confines of southern California. Daichendt’s bio on Schraf, released in December 2016, shows how parking level B4 has direct pedigree to long street art history.
The bio reveals the Pop-artist is an original muse to today’s street art. After art school Scharf went to New York where he socially and aesthetically interweaved with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as Daichendt notes. It led to the attitude and language now associated with street art; including sharing pithy critiques of the art world and consumer culture while trying to infiltrate it.
Daichendt follows Scharf through the 90s and brings us to the current decade to remind us that Fairey, Retna, and Scharf teamed on another site; The West Hollywood Library, guided by the city of West Hollywood, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and prompted by MOCA’s "Art in the Streets" in 2011.
“Along with Shepard Fairey and Retna, Kenny was asked to paint on this monstrous surface," Daichendt writes. "Spray painting had always had a big impact in Kenny’s art, and while he never called himself a graffiti artist, he was clearly being written into its history."
Softly Daichendt appends Scharf’s early maverick attitudes to a recovering spirituality, allowing the author to read this artists philosophy with insight of a theologian. Now, that is one heady idea that comes out of this illustrated storytelling bio, yet the read is still inviting to a broader audience. Emerging street artist readership who get their news about art online will feel at home with forty chapters that read like frequent posts. Still, the author finds narrative arcs, both high and low. Like any long career there are many.
Some are emotional. In the chapter “Good Bye Friend” Scharf recalls Haring’s deterioration and passing, and Daichendt has the reader witness the final intimate moment without feeling like they are intruding.
That tone for “In Absence of Myth” has Daichendt leave out stoic critique seen in his previous bios. He leaves that to Scharf who is fully willing to self-critique the paths he wandered on. That makes to be more than a biography of an artist. It offers some backstory of an art movement old enough to have a real history.
Kenny Scharf in front of his mural at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in 2010. Courtesy The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Banner: Jerry Misko
"Prismatic Spray" (Detail)