WORK IN PROGRESS. A map of downtown murals is a personal project slated to be completed in May.
Let’s begin: Downtown Las Vegas and the adjacent Arts District sit on the city’s earliest grid, north of The Strip, backed up against the railroad line. That's where you can find the largest collection of murals in Southern Nevada.
The clusters in this footprint include some works created during the brief city of Las Vegas Centennial mural program that began in Feb. 2005, joining the national tradition of public art as neighborhood projects. Most of them have been maintained. A remnant of that program, the painting of utility boxes, operates under the title “Zap!” and has resurfaced as a civic funded project.
With cooperating businesses set in place for murals, graffiti’s style of abstract letterforms has thrived - though not as a program under the city or Clark County. Those works are sequestered within the 18 blocks designated as arts district ephemera and still eyed with suspicion by authority.
Some may refer to graffiti as street art, but aerosol-based works that are primarily typography, or “writing,” with minimal figurative illustration, have a different point of origin. For this survey, they are being separated from the large-scale works curated by Charlotte Dutoit for Rise Above, the 2013 Life Is Beautiful Festival street art program that invited international artists to use high-profile walls -- some under casino ownership. All but two are still up.
Green dots are archived neon signs, or new signs with retro designs. They must be included since neon is the region’s unique contribution to public art.
This preliminary map shows how this part of Las Vegas is not just an active art zone, it’s an urban art lab. A starting point for topical discussion of how murals, graffiti, and street art can have overlapping technique with conflicting aesthetic intent.
Seven Magic Mountains
Art Production Fund
Nevada Museum of Art