The first part of our year has been so busy that we wanted to offer up a few thoughts before we move on to our next exhibition.
Art is not created in a void. If Las Vegas is going to become a city with a really robust fine art-going culture then it will help to have a sense of where we have been, what has been accomplished, and what might still need to be done in the future. We look at the 70 – 80 CCSD students who visit us almost every week as part of our Bus to the Barrick program and we want them to know that there are adults in their community who use the visual arts as an expressive vehicle for ideas about the culture they inhabit. We want them to know that this kind of communication is possible, and that it is available to them as Las Vegans.
The Barrick collection is not a definitive statement about our region’s art, but it is, at least, a publicly-accessible group of works that can be shown, discussed, and studied for evidence of Southern Nevada’s ability to sustain a fine art culture. That culture doesn’t only come from people who live here now, but also from diasporans who have moved away, and from artists like Alexa Hoyer who travels regularly to Las Vegas from her home in New York because she has found something here that she doesn’t see anywhere else. Three months ago, as we were installing our Plural exhibition, we were glad to be able to put her Book, 2015, next to ceramic sculptures by Sean Russell, a local artist who has shaped his clay by exploiting forces from the same landscape Hoyer chooses to photograph. It seemed important to have multiple voices operating on the same piece of countryside at once, with different aims and different materials.
It was similarly valuable to be able to put two works that use text — Krystal Ramirez’s I Want To See, 2017, and Justin Favela’s Estardas 2010 — next to one another and talk about the divergent ways that artists can mould a basic strategy to fit their intentions. It says something about the complexity of the art that is possible here.
We are grateful to all the artists who made themselves available for workshops and talks, or who dropped in at short notice because they’d heard that a group of students were passing through who might be interested in their work (and they were, they always were …). It was wonderful to have Mary Corey March, the artist behind the Identity Tapestry installation, flying in to take part in a panel discussion about Creativity and Healing after October 1 alongside historians and trauma specialists. Housing the Las Vegas Zine Library with the help of its custodians Jeff Grindley and Stephanie Seiler opened up possibilities we are only beginning to explore. The Vessel exhibition curated by Paige Bockman gave us an opportunity to reach out to clay artists at Las Vegas Academy and ask for help creating hands-on models of the work for our visitors to touch. We expect to develop a few more clay projects as the exhibition continues through to 2019.
One of our aims, now that the Bus to the Barrick program has been successfully established, is to spend more of our time moving out of the museum and working with other organizations in the community. The transformation of the Clark County Winchester Community Center Skatepark by Andrew Schoultz, the painter who will be creating our next exhibition, was an example of the kind of project we have our eye on.
Finally, it’s International Museum Day (and also the 9th Annual Art Museum Day) this Friday and the exhibit hall will be empty due to our current deinstallation, so we’re making it available for a free yoga class from 10 – 11 a.m., followed by a double bill of classic films in the auditorium — Carl Theodore Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928, and Jean-Luc Godard’s anarchic, brutal Weekend, 1967. Come along if you’d like to get out of the heat.
(We should add that this film screening, unlike almost everything else at the Barrick, is not suitable for children.)
Photographs 1, 2, 4, and 5 were taken by Mikayla Whitmore. Photograph 3 was taken by Krystal Ramirez. From top to bottom they are:
1. (r – l) Diane Bush, Skin Deep, 2011; China Adams, Winter Garbage Chunks, 2008; Gig Depio, Breaking Armistice, 2014; Krystal Ramirez, I Want To See, 2017; Wendy Kveck, Lettuce-Eater (the devouration), 2007.
2. Works from Catherine Borgs’s Scouted: An Inadvertant Archive From the Search for a Cinematic Vegas series, 1994 – 2013, seen through Almond Zigmund’s Interruptions Repeated, 2013.
3. Artist Lance Smith leading his Drawing & Memory workshop on March 10th
4. The Clark County Winchester Cultural Center Skatepark being painted with the help of (r-l) Bomi Kang, AJ Datuin, Guerrero Gallery director Andres Guerrero, Allen Linnabary, and Lee Cannarozzo (headless).
5. Mary Corey March, Identity Tapestry, 2018 (detail)