The urban art lab of downtown Las Vegas has both unauthorized street art and commissioned works, as seen in two examples of text based works.
The "You Killed Me First” wheat-paste and stickers seen in the arts district shows an angry female against a harsh green background, pointing her gun at the reader. Underneath in stressed type the tagline read “You Killed Me First,” an example of how words play off image or environment in street art.
“I feel type can be a very powerful tool in artwork,” said the artist who arrogated the main image from "You Killed Me First," the 1985 cult film directed by Richard Kern, where actress Lung Leg points a firearm toward the camera. “I hoped to grab people's attention with my art by using bright colors with sometimes disturbing images; that appealed to me,” said YKMF, who uses the initials of the movie quote as a moniker. “It's shocking to some people and I've heard some say it’s rather garish or disgusting. Their comments actually opened the door to another piece of art.” YKMF started this series in Los Angeles, and it's now appearing in Las Vegas. It’s an example of street art transferring pop-culture into replication, which becomes counterculture critique of media saturation.
Also installed in downtown Las Vegas, and other spots in the valley, is a literal form of street art. Carefully chosen words, crafted from typeface associated with authorship, Times Roman, are painted on sidewalks by artist Markus Tracy. When freshly painted, you can see it was accompanied by a red dot at the beginning of a word. Tracy calls it site-specific “text paintings,” an installation designed to engage strollers by provoking “reflection and thought” about an immediate environment.
On Las Vegas Blvd, heading into downtown, where a cluster of quick wedding chapels are lined up, the word "cherubs" on the sidewalk greets wedding parties. At the edge of a trail a few miles away, the word “passage” with a red dot, acts as a way-finder. “It’s critical that the words reference the environment,” said Tracy. “And a story comes out of one or two words, that develops a relationship and an experience.”
Both show how unauthorized and commissioned street art using text, and expecting a brief engagement, works as flash poems.
Seven Magic Mountains
Art Production Fund
Nevada Museum of Art