Old Las Vegas TV commercials projected on a star from the Stardust sign being captured on a smartphone.
“Disconnected: The Creation of an American Phenomenon” is Lee Cannarozzo deftly responding to being raised in Las Vegas through a set of installations at UNLV's Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery. It's summer story telling about growing up in the town of Paradise and being a young witness to the last of old Las Vegas, to feel the rumble of underground blasts and implosions, and to have local television be a Greek Chorus to unprecedented growth.
“An upbringing in Las Vegas is very unique,” Lee, 27, says. “It’s an experience that gives you a very interesting life perspective.”
As someone who also leads tours at The Neon Museum, his visual chronicles have a sophisticated panache.
Walking into the show, you are greeted with a boot. “Expansion” speaks to the city’s fast growth by presenting population stats on the gallery wall. Next to the data of years and numbers, a fiberglass foot with exposed metal sits on local desert sand. It’s one of a few body parts left of Fitzgerald's Mr. O' Lucky casino sign sculpture.
Las Vegas grew because Paradise had room for a faux reality aesthetic, which Lee acknowledges by showing the shape of unincorporated town that frames the Strip as a rich blue wall sculpture that hangs like a glowing monument.
Then there is "Growing Pains" that projects television footage from the late 1980s to early 90s on a battered star from the 188-feet high Stardust super pylon. It is a connection of fragmented memories from local television to a sign that Lee calls an “icon of commerce.”
“It was part of my upbringing, and part of my reality,’ says Lee, an UNLV undergrad majoring in art history, and now researching MFA programs that allows him to continue this practice.
“Disconnected” is a prototype for a self-imposed calling to find ways to mix curatorship with fine art. He says he wants to create “installation based work that deal with macro concepts of identity, society, and under represented historical issues."
Lee starts with home.
Lee Cannarozzo at Donna Beam Art Gallery
Disconnected: The Creation of an American Phenomenon
Through August 8
9am to 5pm
Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery
UNLV Alta Ham Fine Arts Building
ABOVE: James Turrell at Crystals monorail station.