Today is Francis Albert Sinatra’s birthday and he would have been 99. This town doesn’t have a mural of the Chairman of the Board and they should. Something completed in time for Frank Sinatra’s centenary would be a majestic confession from the Las Vegas marriage to pop culture and its wicked affair with mob mystique. Sinatra as large-scale or street level installation shifts his emblematic context to be interpreted as art in public space and go beyond being tourism fodder, and still build the city’s self exploited myth.
Just hold the cheese by keeping away branding theatrics with a subtle shift of content and presentation. You know, just like the way Sinatra used his medium range baritone with disciplined infection, phrasing and timing, to be unpredictable, random, and monumental.
There is a street named after him. Frank Sinatra Drive is the backdoor behind casinos on the Strip. Lounge and main stage acts are sincere tributes, a pilgrimage to an age billed as that old Las Vegas feel. An Italian restaurant in the Wynn Las Vegas/Encore complex is named after him, with blessing from Sinatra’s estate, and display is his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor from “Here to Eternity.” Sinatra’s Las Vegas recordings are still a prestigious catalog.
The Golden Steer Steakhouse marks Sinatra’s favorite table with a brass plaque, according to a 2013 Smithsonian.com article that toured remaining Sinatra landmarks. The article also recants the tale of Las Vegas as the birthplace of the Rat Pack moniker, a knighthood - rather a night hood -- that was a hipster christening by Lauren Bacall. “He was the spark that changed Vegas from a dusty Western town into something glamorous,” said Lorraine Hunt-Bono, the former Lieutenant Governor.
A mural of Sinatra would be public art and modernist being a metaphor for each other, an installation with built-in street art attitude since The Voice taught Las Vegas how to walk with rhythmic swagger.
Diane Keller "Ole Blue Eyes" (1999) Philadelphia Mural Arts Program I Photo: Cavalier92 via Flickr Creative Commons License
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.