Gabrielle Hunt of Lyon County (center) is the winner of the 2017 Nevada Poetry Out Loud Recital Competition. Cache Black of Elko County (left) and Lea Gifford of Douglas County (right) were awarded second place and third place, respectively.
Nevada Arts Council’s 50th Anniversary weekend had visits from national cultural heads of states who applauded arts programming in the cities and small towns of Nevada.
But final things first.
After an awards dinner, keynotes, workshops, site visits, all which included accolades for retiring Nevada Arts Council executive director Susan Boskoff, the weekend ended with the Nevada Poetry Out Loud Recital Competition, taped live at Reno’s PBS affiliate on Saturday.
High school students from each county, and one for virtual education, picked poems from a pool provided by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation. Each took a turn in round one and two, then a panel of judges picked three finalists to recite one more poem for a third round.
Gabrielle Hunt of Lyon County was awarded first place and will represent Nevada at the National Finals in Washington DC this April.
As the Poetry Out Loud State Champion, Gabrielle earns $1,000, wins another $1,000 for her school to support literary programs, and travels with a chaperone to Washington, D.C. to compete for $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals, on April 25 and 26, 2017 at the Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University. The full slate of semi-finalists are Carson City, Emily Matuska, sophomore, Carson High School; Clark County, Gillian Lajda, sophomore, East Career and Technical Academy; Douglas County, Lea Gifford, junior Douglas High School; Elko County, Cache Black, junior, Elko High School; Humboldt County, Tanner Ames, senior, Albert Lowry High School; Lincoln County, Nathanael Frehner, senior, Lincoln County High School; Lyon County, Gabrielle Hunt, junior, Yerington High School; Nevada Virtual, Erica Jean Peterson, sophomore, Nevada Virtual Academy; Nye County, Octavio Jesus Maldonado, junior, Beatty High School; Pershing County, Christopher J. Wilbur, junior, Pershing County High School; Storey County, Pandora Arredondo, junior, Virginia City High School; Washoe County, Skye Matuzak, sophomore, Truckee Meadows Community College High School
A trip to New York for the College Arts Association followed by a trip to LA, while working on stories for other sites, plus MFA research, is the reason for the lack of posts. There will be much to catch up on.
This press release, provided by Susan Boskoff, executive director of the The Nevada Arts Council, explains my next trip. The National Endowment for the Arts will be in Reno during a crucial time.
Shepard Fairey “Cultivate Harmony" at The Plaza, Las Vegas. Photo: PaintThisDesert
SHEPARD FAIREY: The street art rogue just completed a new mural on the north side of the 22-story Plaza hotel-casino and it is a majestic decoration. At first the mural, titled “Cultivate Harmony,” appears to have less social commentary one expects from a Shepard Fairey. That is endurable since the work is in a part of town beginning to understand how murals are public art, not just a large signs peddling local industry, thanks to Just Kids curating large-scale street art for the Life is Beautiful Festival. Still, there are messages that can be decoded by an OBEY cryptographer.
The red, black and white is the practiced Fairey propaganda palette, a mash-up of Russian Constructivism and Barbara Kruger advertising stratagems. Often white is switched out with what some call beige, but it’s closer to the tan of sun-aged newsprint, or how skin tones look at dusk. Gold highlights “Cultivate Harmony," a color that with the customary rich red echoes the Plaza signs that top the tower. On top edge gold is also used for a small peace sign and the word OBEY in interlocking typography; two emblems often used as a set by Fairey. The “Andre the Giant Has A Posse” mark sits within the symmetry of a blossom centered on the wall.
Three walls, really. The architecture of the Plaza forces the mural to be a fragmented triptych.
The references to gaming are subtle and don’t demand initial attention of a viewer, showing the piece is committed to be interpreted as art. An ace is seen below the stare-down of Andre and positioned to land in the visual center of the whole work. The remaining card suits are in black and sit on both sides of the shield. Anchoring the mural is another version of the artist’s environmentally themed “Earth Crisis,” a visual coalition of eye with a tear, and inside the tear a globe; a call to action by Fairey that made its debut in Paris for the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
For those familiar with the artist behind Obey Giant “Cultivate Harmony" is a greatest hits package, and his critics will say it is another example of the rogue gone vogue. Fans can easily defend Fairey by pointing to his two other major works in Las Vegas. He stayed with social messages in “Corporate Welfare,” his 2016 installation for Life is Beautiful Festival, that was a continuation of “On Our Hands,” his 2015 exhibition at Jacob Lewis Gallery in New York. His other piece, part of the 2010 WALLWORKS at The Cosmopolitan garage, is highlighted with “Peace Goddess,” a repeated portraiture style that also defines a Shepard look. During the Las Vegas Woman's March that coincided with the Woman’s March in Washington, that portraiture look was used in images he created for "We the People" campaign, and used the muted red white and blue of his signature Obama 'Hope' graphic.
And in the streets he, or his posse, have reminded locals that OBEY GIANT can still be a guerilla operative.
What is daring is The Plaza commissioning the mural. Las Vegas casinos use large-scale graphics to enhance theme or promote events and consider them disposable. (Though to their credit the Plaza has not taken down a modest 1984 mural that was designed to bring attention to an Amtrak line that once stopped behind what was then Union Plaza).
The other big message of “Cultivate Harmony" is a casino found room and resources for a mural installation beyond the direct supportive fanfare timed for a festival. That gives public art a monumental residency in downtown Las Vegas.
Shepard Fairey and his crew surveys a nearly completed “Cultivate Harmony" Sunday, January 29, 2017. Photo: PaintThisDesert
Above: Opening Night at "Tilting The Basin" in Las Vegas