Michael Govan welcomes Dave Hickey back to Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of The Smith Center.
Field Notes: The Las Vegas art throng gathered to hear Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Dave Hickey, rascal art critic, talk land art at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz venue Tuesday . . . CAC Night Out: Hosted by Las Vegas Contemporary Arts Center, the pair used accessible art linguistics with the beat of mid-tempo jazz improvisation to pitch how the public should reconsider and embrace Michael Heizer’s “City,” located 170 miles north of Las Vegas . The public owns it, Govan said of Nevada's cultural contribution to the nation that sits on Federal land. Govan, who championed Heizer’s 340-ton stonework “Levitated Mass” to LACMA, also debriefed the audience about “Double Negative” near Overton, Nevada . . . Hickey was Hickey and it was good to hear that drawl and crackle send a message that the sculpture could put Las Vegas on the map if grownups take over, and while "City" is big art it's not overpowering as a monumental form.
Video from The Smith Center's blog, Spotlight, has some of the highlights.
ADD APRIL 19: With the room filled with arts writers and reporters, it was expected there would be plenty of coverage on "City" project talk. Here's the previous list with some edits and additions.
"Brain still effervescing! As the bubbles settle, though, I’ll say this as a non-artspeak-speaking civilian who skirts the edges of the edges of the scene: Before last night, I’d heard only rumors and whispers about City, read a few articles about it. My pedestrian understanding was that it was, oh, cool, a work of monumental, isolated eccentricity. Govan and Hickey really tightened the bolts on what City entails — a work of slow, epic, generational urgency that seeks to rearrange how we think of art being objects that represent things or meanings — say, like a painting on a wall that offers a visual window. To paraphrase Govan, City is no window; it’s a world. Road trip!"
Andrew Kiraly in Tales of City: an evening with Dave Hickey and Michael Govan I KNPR
"Heizer selected the area for its geology, remoteness and feeling of expansive space. 'In the ’70s he wanted to find a space that would be protected—a ranch surrounded by BLM land. In those days no one could touch BLM land,' Govan says, contrasting the idea with the more recent threat of nearby potential fracking and rail lines hauling nuclear waste (and in the 1980s, MX missiles). Encouraging residents to send letters to elected officials, Govan referred to the land as 'ours as citizens of the United States.'"
Kristen Peterson Las Vegas Weekly
"Hickey earns a laugh from his audience when claiming he gambled away his MacArthur Fellowship prize money in the casinos of Las Vegas. Tonight, however, Hickey's focus is not on the city of Las Vegas, but on the city nearing completion in Lincoln County that he describes as offering a large-scale, unique art experience." JK Russ for HuffPo.
Russ also notes Hickey saying: "Artists are all the time trying to occupy ordinary spaces... But to do a city? That is really cool. It means that you can walk along one area and take a right and see some absolutely strange thing that you have never seen before, and walk along there until you see something else you've never seen before."
What's behind the #ProtectCity campaign for artist Michael Heizer I LA Times
Museums unite in campaign to save massive land art project I The Art Newspaper
Huge, top-secret sculpture taking shape in desert I KSL Utah
Protect Basin and Range I Facebook
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.