Letter to the Editor

Thank you for publishing an article about art in Las Vegas (“Las Vegas: Still Learning?” from ART PAPERS Spring 2018). It’s encouraging to know that someone outside the city is thinking of us as a place where serious art can be made. I work at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art — I’m glad to see that the author mentions us.

But the description of the Barrick is not quite correct. It is not true that the Museum only houses “traditional visual cultural artifacts from pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.” The majority of the space is taken up with the collection and exhibition of contemporary artists. The Museum’s collection includes work by Dave Hickey proteges Tim Bavington and Sush Machida Gaikotsu, as well as other Las Vegas-based artists, or artists whose lives have intersected with the city, such as Justin Favela, China Adams, and Catherine Borg. 

Andrew Schoultz, “Moiré Experiment (8 Squares),” installation view at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, 2018 [photo: Lonnie Timmons III / UNLV Creative Services; courtesy the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art]

The Barrick also houses and exhibits Nevada’s portion of the Vogel 50×50 donation, which includes work by Lynda Benglis, Richard Tuttle, Robert Barry, and Joseph Nechvatal. Within the past year, the museum has exhibited work by Peter Fend, Max Hooper Schneider, Gala Porras-Kim, Cayetano Ferrer, Candice Lin, Joan Linder, and others. 

We’re currently showing an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and site-specific murals by Andrew Schoultz. Following that, we’ll fill the main gallery with a participatory environment of performance and sculpture by Brooklyn artist Tamar Ettun. That exhibition will include huge, vivid, inflatable ‘rooms’, as well as an opportunity for the community to interact with Ettun and share their experiences of the October 1st shooting in an atmosphere of radical empathy.

In short, the Barrick is the museum that ART PAPERS doesn’t believe Las Vegas has.

If ART PAPERS decides to tackle the subject of art in Las Vegas again, we’d be happy to give the names of some artists, critics, gallerists, bloggers, and teachers who could show concrete examples of local work. This could be a great opportunity for finding out what our artists are doing now and why they’re doing it. What if the forces driving them don’t align with the outside idea of what they ought to be interested in?

Marketers and tourists conflates the city itself with the rows of “immersive” facades along the Strip, and it shouldn’t be surprising if artists who live here produce work that complicates or evades that tourist vision, or — as in the case of several artists I’ve seen who use footage of casino implosions — they react in ways that can seem explicit. Seeing familiar landmarks explode while cheering people shout, “Blow it up!” is visceral, and, I think, can be looped back to some of the points about mourning that Amanda Fortini makes in her California Sunday Magazine article about the Las Vegas shooting. “A week after the incident, my students told me they felt they hadn’t been given time to grieve,” she writes. If I had to propose a way forward for Las Vegas art, I wonder if I would point to the subversive, unobserved, and untouristic action of grieving.