Arts reporter Kristen Peterson with Audrey Barcio's installation "BEGINNING AND ENDING COINCIDE WITH THE END AND BEGINNING" at The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery. April 1, 2016. Photo: PtD
A prolific arts reporter is leaving her beat. This afternoon Kristen Peterson sent word through Facebook that she is "no longer with Greenspun Media. I'm still writing (a lot, actually), working on longterm projects and freelance." Peterson first joined Greenspun in 1998 and was a Las Vegas Sun beat reporter before covering the arts. Her stories in Las Vegas Weekly were a major reading habit for the Southern Nevada art community. Hopefully there are a few final stories to be published.
Peterson stands by being a known as journalist first (though I consider her a cultural journalist). "I cover art as a reporter, not a critic," she often insisted. That personal editorial manifesto has her position the artist, curator, or institution before the art. That's as important as a review. If you miss her words, her articles will be online with some searching. Or wait until you look over resumes of working Las Vegas artists. There's a good chance her reporting is in the list of media mentions.
Below are some articles I pulled while prepping for her appearance on a panel I curated for The Barrick. Have some random samples of her prose.
On the protocol of applause at a symphony: It’s a Saturday night and a friend and I are nestled in our seats at Ham Hall, absorbed by the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Fourth Symphony.” The audience is fully invested in the Las Vegas Philharmonic performance, with one movement still to enjoy. Then something crazy happens. Something I’d never experienced at a symphonic performance: Third movement ends. Clapping ensues, followed by shushing. Not just a little, but a multivoiced shhhhhhhhhing, mixing with, and then drowning out, the barely begun applause.
On appreciating Ansel Adams at UNLV’s Barrick Museum: "On loan from Bank of America, the exhibit feels like a note from the late environmentalist and photographer on the way life might be if we just chilled out a little, threw aside our greed and started managing the reconstructed and defaced Las Vegas Valley. While we were out destroying our topsoil and carving into mountains, Adams embraced every texture of each vista far more stunning and grandiose than any construction company or casino could ever produce."
On Nevada State College's exhibit Vegas From the Hip. "The square images—saturated, hazy, black-and-white and sometimes blurred—capture new Las Vegas sites and near-forgotten and crumbling landmarks and will likely have guests downloading an app based on the story of the fabled (and possibly fictitious) Hipstamatic 100, described as an early 1980s cheap plastic 35 mm camera with a plastic lens, hot shoe flash and automatic focus."
On Dennis Oppenheim: It was bittersweet, obviously. These works weren’t what the subcommittee approved when selecting Oppenheim. Nor were they his runner-up pieces—four paintbrushes, two at each intersection entering the Arts District. Today there are just two, and erroneous installation delayed even them. So when Arts Commissioner Rob McCoy ended the dedication by saying, “We have a public art piece that is worthy of Las Vegas,” he could easily have said that what we really have is a signifier of the trials and tribulations of the very area it’s located in, as well as of the arts in Las Vegas. It’s the easiest way to embrace the paintbrushes and their light beams connecting above.
On taking the Las Vegas arts scene seriously: The villagers are at the gates, their torches in the air. They’re calling for change, a revolution of sorts. But with no establishment, no leader and no institutions to tear down, there’s nothing to overthrow. It’s a cause without a sense of order: Occupy Arts Las Vegas.
The Strip designed the Valley as it is today, for better or for worse. So, when someone recently posited that art in Las Vegas has no middle ground, I took it as an insightful critique, a situation that exists because of Las Vegas itself. What we have is a transformational young city.
A noir masterpiece: The bizarre kidnapping and subsequent escape— [Melissa] Petersen broke free and ran across a field to a supermarket—made headlines with its juicy details, including the unconvincing claim from one of the convicted kidnappers that it was a hoax.
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.