Cockroach Theatre in the 18b.
After landing in Las Vegas back in 2011 I immediately began exploring the region to continue self-imposed research on street art. I did not know what to expect because Southern Nevada doesn’t have a reputation for being a destination for murals created as art in public space. The portfolio was modest. That has changed.
There is now a strong cross section of mural styles. Las Vegas has the self branding form of graffiti and street artists who want their works to gain value through guerilla aesthetic and experimental development. There are also large-scale works have get international attention. And there is some backstory drama. Local artists voiced a backlash against the random bubble tagging that was less about aesthetic, and more of infiltrating landscape with dull presence.
Here is a list of five spots that offer any student of street art the free experience of random discovery.
1: 18b Graffiti Walls.
2: 18b Street Art Walls.
3: Fremont District
Bordalo II "Meerkats" for Life is Beautiful.
The downtown footprint anchored by Fremont Street, between Las Vegas Blvd, Stewart Ave, 8th Street, and Carson Ave., is filled with leave-behinds; the commissioned large-scale street art from the Life Is Beautiful Festivals. The visual spectacle has linked Las Vegas to a global contemporary mural movement. A highlight from last year is Portuguese-based artist Bordalo II, who invaded local trash bins to find found objects to assemble a group of Meerkats hanging out against a discarded bus. Even without the crowds and music, works by artist like D*Face, Doze Green, Vhils, Ana Maria, Borondo, Fintan Magee and others left downtown’s Fremont District a distinct portfolio.
Emergency Arts adorned for Life Is Beautiful Festival.
Street Artist, 1010, painting his mural for the 2015 Life Is Beautiful Festival
4: The Linq
In what was once an access road between The Imperial Palace and The Flamingo is now public space along The Linq, a shopping walkway anchored by the High Roller. It has also become an outdoor gallery for I.S.I. Group to bring in local artist to convert blank walls into a site for small murals that tourists (and locals) use for photo ops. It’s a commercial modification of an alley being a nesting spot for street art, yet shows how there can be a balance integration of street art and the Strip as an activated space for walking.
5: Maryland Parkway
Twenty commissions were appointed to paint utility boxes in Maryland Parkway in 2015 for the seventh “Zap!” a project that has been introducing public art to local neighborhoods. ZAP 7 was also one of the first visible steps in converting Maryland Parkway to an Urban Art Corridor, and the works by the artists, or teams, when past street level decoration and finding ways to reflect neighborhood identity. A number of painted boxes were created by UNLV alum, and alongside the campus, near Harmon, are some that were designed by students in UNLV "Art in Public Places" course. For easier touring, a pdf map of is available.
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.