Within the traditions that came out of the West, murals engage viewers by being a storyteller for a neighborhood, and there’s some movement of that in Las Vegas. But with cultural identity buried under bling, shaping regional sense of people and place could use some backup.
Las Vegas needs their own Poet Laureate.
That’s what I been thinking during the early stages of PaintThisDesert (where finding emerging art fellowship sometimes needs some investigative journalism).
I brought up the idea of a Poet Laureate to Patrick Gaffey, Cultural Program Supervisor Clark County Parks and Recreation; and Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, herself a focused advocate for the arts and arts funding. After spent time with both of them in the last two years discussing public art, I felt comfortable asking why Southern Nevada’s cultural identity is shackled to Carson City and Reno to the north. Why isn’t there a city or county poet laureate?
Surely, Las Vegas is a literary prompt beyond out-of-town writers using broad generalization by channeling Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” or locals surrendering to the pitch line “What Happens Here, Stays Here”. Other cities, after all, have authorship be part of civic ceremony, including Los Angeles and Fresno in Calif; Key West, Fla; and Albuquerque, NM.
This statement within the State can modestly start with faculty or alum from UNLV, NSC, and CSN.
Also worth considering is how interesting contemporary murals use text with image and can be a way the region blends the traditional mural with street art.
Tomorrow, April 15, Clark County Board of Commissioners meeting will be held. Agenda Item 56 is thus posted: “That the Board of County Commissioners discuss creating a poet laureate position in Clark County. (For possible action).”
Commissioner Giunchigliani invited me to speak on behalf of the item. I will keep you posted.
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.