Play a word association game with the name of Las Vegas and the responses would be words like gambling, slot machines, showgirls, shows and the Las Vegas Strip. But there’s another more cultured side to the city, usually hidden beneath the brash neon.
Vegas also has many of the finest dining experiences in the United States, with internationally-acclaimed chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Joël Robuchon and Nobu Matsuhisa all operating restaurants there.
And then there’s the art. Art in Las Vegas? Well, you’re not talking the Louvre or Metropolitan Museum of Art, but Vegas does have its share of permanent galleries, changing exhibitions and exciting installations, which are all the more pleasing because for most visitors they’re unexpected. Here are some of the current art highlights in the City of Sin.
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in the Bellagio Hotel usually has a couple of exhibitions a year. On display at the time of writing is ‘I Am The Greatest: Muhammad Ali’, a show about the legendary boxing champ. Past exhibitions have featured the work of artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Monet, Hockney and Picasso, so the inclusion of an Ali exhibition shows just how wide-ranging the gallery is. ‘I Am The Greatest’ includes previously unseen family film footage, photos, personal items and interviews with some of the boxer’s closest friends and admirers. The show runs till 30th September 2017.
The Trick Eye Experience
at the Monte Carlo Hotel. This amazing collection of hand-painted murals has been done by Melanie Stimmell and her fellow artists from We Talk Chalk from Los Angeles. These murals which look 3-D allow you to look as if you’re in the scene, for some unbelievable and fun selfie and posing opportunities. Current murals include a shark leaping out of the water, a polar bear that eats out of your hand and some giant scorpions.
New hotel The Park has gone for an artsy approach right from the start. This 40-foot high creation shows a woman dancing and took artist Marco Cochrane and his team 18 months to build. It contains 7,500 lbs of stainless steel and 3,000 LED bulbs to create the shimmering light show, and it’s surrounded by 16 other works that complement the dancer. It’s rightly become an instant Vegas attraction.
The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art
The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas and hosts changing exhibitions on a wide range of subjects. Past displays have shown the photographs of Ansel Adams, Mexican masks and contemporary sculpture. There’s also an adjacent gallery, the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery, which shows work by students.
Contemporary Arts Center
The Contemporary Arts Center.was started almost 25 years ago by local artists and students, and a visit here takes you well away from the strip to the downtown arts district, which is a very different face of Las Vegas (although the Burlesque Hall of Fame is just a block away, which is art of another kind). There are changing exhibitions and talks, though there aren’t always events on here so check first before making the journey. At the same address is the funky art gallery/hangout The Arts Factory.
Clark County Government Centre
The Clark County Government Center might not seem an obvious place to visit, unless you’re going to pick up a marriage license, but its rotunda houses regularly-changing art exhibitions so take a look at the website to see what’s on when you’re there. Speaking of regularly-changing exhibitions, The Cosmopolitan Hotel has an exciting and constantly changing program of art displays and visiting artists.
In addition to these museums and public art works the city has numerous art galleries where you could easily blow your poker winnings on a fine work of art. Some of the best include the CENTERpiece Gallery near the Mandarin Oriental, Elena Bulatova Fine Art in the shopping mall adjoining the Aria Hotel, Emergency Arts Las Vegas, downtown on Fremont Street and the Martin Lawrence Art Gallery in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.
So if you do manage to turn a profit on the tables, take a look around the art galleries of Las Vegas as a great way to invest your winnings and remember the trip.
Tell me more about the artsy side of Las Vegas