An arts community blossoms off the Strip

Las Vegas’ Unique Arts Community

Speaker [0:00:05]: The art scene here is small, but it is strong. People that live in Las Vegas don’t live in the casinos. There’s neighborhoods. There’s culture. You’re not thinking about the painter that’s been making work for twenty years living in the arts district here.


Brian Paco Alvarez (art curator, Zappos) [0:00:26]: There’s this perception that Las Vegas has no art and culture and unfortunately that’s an incorrect perception. Las Vegas has a very unique aesthetic. It’s influenced by the desert, by the environment; we are a product of the environment. The artists that are attracted here come here for various reasons.


Wendy Kyveck (founder, Settlers and Nomads) [0:00:48]: I think artists are drawn to the aesthetics of Las Vegas as a place to live and make work. The visual culture is more accelerated here than it is in other cities.

Being an artist in Las Vegas is a special experience because you live in a town that caters to the whole world.


Ed Fuentes (public art researcher, UNLV) [0:01:14]: You would have to look at Seven Magic Mountains as a big turning point because that put Las Vegas as southern Nevada on a national map. It gave the arts district a reputation of being a creative environment. Then you had the Life is Beautiful festival start looking at what walls could be used for murals. Murals were just something you could put up temporarily and take down, but I think that’s beginning to change. It’s not the decoration. A really good mural is a piece of art. So while the strip is constantly, constantly changing, public art will go up and it stays up. So it stays a representation of culture identity.


Ryan Doherty (CXO, Life is Beautiful festival) [0:01:52]: They did not have a music festival downtown in Las Vegas. We had the opportunity to come in with a massive music festival down here. We got a chance to paint the sides of the walls and kind of beautify them for a little while. Long after the bands pack up and the chefs leave and the speakers take off, the murals stay. Maybe because we don’t have a lot of art in Vegas and we’re trying to preserve what we do get. It’s the greatest, free, open-air art gallery in the country at this point. We’ve painted 40 plus murals now. We’re starting to be taken more and more seriously as an art town.


Robert Tracy (associate professor & curator, UNLV) [0:02:25]: Public art is having a voice. It helps create a sense of destination. I hope the future of art in Las Vegas will be driven by a recognition of the uniqueness of the environment and the land.


Fawn Douglas (Paiute artist and activist) [0:02:40]: My people, the Las Vegas Paiute, we’re indigenous to this area. I’d love to see more people reaching into themselves, reaching into their heritage and putting that art out there.


Speaker [0:02:50]: We’ve had a really active art scene here. I think the more tourists and even locals, the more they see art out in the streets, out in the public, right, the more used to it they get.
Las Vegas has influenced my work in every way, I mean, it’s my home and it’s always changing. We’re a city built on this magic and it just keeps growing and I think eventually it will become something that the world will recognize.