What Did Art Make You Think About Today? (Telling Stories)



Michael Freborg has been researching artists at the Barrick for the past three months. He spent a lot of time at a desk in the (recently-deinstalled) Preservation exhibition, so we asked him what he thought about while he was sitting there. He considered the question for a while and gave us this.


As I sit working on my laptop, I find myself surrounded by creativity. Artwork in various forms is strategically placed throughout the sprawling museum hall. Giant photographs of pyramids and rotated land mass illustrations adorn the white walls of the East Gallery. On the other side, a strange-looking object made of wicker hangs beside a sketch of itself. Smooth marble blocks, slide projections, and monitors with videos playing on them are all within sight or earshot of me. In the Braunstein Gallery, wooden masks from 20th century Mexico rest behind glass. And in the West Gallery, a small ceramic dog from ancient Colima is displayed next to a row of large white rocks. The 2,200 year-old Mexican artifact almost seems out of place with the rest of the modern artwork. And I, myself, type words onto a white computer screen, hoping to fill my own canvas with a story. This is what art is to me – the use of a medium to tell a story about the world. It does not matter what your background is. Anyone can create art.

Mary Cady Johnson used a variety of mediums to depict the time period she lived in. She even combined words with illustrations to recreate Harvard Professor George Wald’s famous anti-Vietnam War speech. Johnson believed that all human beings have a creative spark in them. No matter what medium is used, people have always had a desire to express themselves, to tell stories, or to mimic the world in some way. Mediums allow us to do so. I share a certain sense of comradery with the sculptor of that Colima Dog. Though we are separated by two millennia, and use different mediums to tell our stories, we share that common spark of creativity that Johnson talked about. The mediums may change over time, but that human yearning to create will always be.


The photograph of work by Gala Porras-Kim, Max Hooper Schneider, Candice Lin, and Ian James in Preservation was taken by Mikayla Whitmore.


Spring 2018 Reception


Join us on February 9, 2018, from 5 – 9 p.m. as the gallery spaces of the UNLV campus invite you to examine ways in which different artists have explored the intersection of identity and form. Enjoy three new Spring exhibitions at the Barrick, along with shows at the Donna Beam, Grant Hall Gallery, and Lied Library.

Plural features recently donated artworks from the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art’s permanent collection that explore complex aspects of human identity through a range of traditional and unconventional media. Memory, passion, voice, excess, race, gender, and intersectionality are all brought into question as we search for ways in which a museum collection can reflect our own multifaceted understanding of who we are. 

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This exhibition features artwork by China Adams, Linda Alterwitz, Audrey Barcio, Tim Bavington, Elizabeth Blau, Catherine Borg, Diane Bush, Gig Depio, Andreana Donahue, Jacqueline Ehlis, Justin Favela, Ash Ferlito with Matt Taber, Noelle Garcia, Nancy Good, Maureen Halligan, Clarity Haynes, Stephen Hendee, Brent Holmes, Bobbie Ann Howell, Alexa Hoyer, Eri King, Branden Koch, Fay Ku, Wendy Kveck, Eric LoPresti​, Julie Oppermann, Tom Pfannerstill, Krystal Ramirez, Kim Rugg, JK Russ, Sean Russell, Daniel Samaniego, Aaron Sheppard, Sean Slattery, Lance Smith, Brent Sommerhauser, Laurens Tan, Ryan Wallace, Mary Warner, Mikayla Whitmore, Thomas Ray Willis, Amy Yoes, and Almond Zigmund.
VESSEL: Ceramics of Ancient West Mexico
VESSEL explores the relationship between form and function through ancient West Mexican ceramics. The exhibition is organized by shape, and visitors are invited to contemplate how the form of each vessel informs both practical use and communicates ideas of power, identity, and belief.
Curated by UNLV alumni and Museum staff, Paige Bockman, M.A. Anthropology 2015.


Identity Tapestry is both a portrait of a community and each individual participant. Inviting visitors to weave aspects of themselves into a participatory artwork, artist Mary Corey March gives us new insights into both ourselves and the people we see around us every day, opening our minds to reflection and healing. The 20 foot long installation, made of hand-dyed yarn, and statements of identity and lived experience that range from “I am a woman” to ” I am fortunate” will join UNLV’s permanent collection. This exhibition and accompanying programs are produced by the UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art and Nevada Humanities, with support from the UNLV College of Fine Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities
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Holly Lay and Brandon Lacow will hold receptions for their MFA thesis exhibitions in Grant Hall Gallery (Lay) and Donna Beam (Lacow), while the Lied Library opens BUILT: A Photographic Survey of the Built Environment of the Las Vegas Valley, a critical examination of the city’s architecture by Aaron Mayes, the library’s Special Collections Curator for Visual Materials. BUILT, and its companion exhibit, UNBUILT LAS VEGAS: Imagining Failed Dreams (curated by Peter Michel) are part of the ongoing Building Las Vegas project.
Images: Noelle Garcia, Doritos, 2016; Krystal Ramirez, I Want to See More Brown Bodies, 2017; Catherine Borg, Untitled, 2012; Colima Vessel, Lidded; Mary Corey March, Identity Tapestry, 2008-; Holly Lay, Aphrodite, 2017.

A Look Back at our 50th Year

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D.K. Sole (Research and Educational Engagement at the Barrick) tries to summarize 2017. A version of this article with different pictures has also appeared on the Barrick website.

We looked forward to 2017.

To celebrate our fiftieth year of service to the Las Vegas community we wanted to make the year wonderful. We wanted to keep what was good, and improve in areas that needed improving.

Improvement takes time, but we wanted to start. How?

Exhibitions of course are an important part of our work. Can we begin our summary of the year there? January opened on the last few weeks of the photography show Edward Burtynsky: Oil, and moved quickly into Process, a group exhibition curated by Matthew Gardocki. I don’t know if you remember Heidi Schwegler’s glass pants, the inquisitive lines of Lester Monzon’s grid-thwarting abstracts, or Julie Oppermann’s optically disturbing juxtaposition of black bars and peacock colors. (One of those Oppermann paintings was later donated to the Barrick by the artist and over the remainder of 2017 it became a regular feature of extra credit classes in perception led by UNLV’s neuroscience professors.)

Karen Roop put together a twelve-month show of traditional Mexican masks, combining them suggestively with a few pieces of contemporary art such as Daniel Bodner’s painting of two men with no faces, RB52, 2011, inviting visitors to think about the notion of having a face at all. What does it mean to put on a face? Allen Linnabary laid out another process of masking when he dug into our archives for a show documenting the history of the museum itself, Fifty Years.


In the West Gallery we opened Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here, an exhibition of Salvador Dalí’s illustrations for Dante’s Inferno and the Decameron of Boccaccio. Curator Lee Cannarozzo came in twice a week to turn the pages of the books himself, an ongoing performance project documented by Shahab Zargari of the UNLV College of Fine Arts. (This exhibition was the beginning of an association with Zargari that has continued to the present day. He has been an invaluable part of our celebrations this year, creating videos of our events and introducing us to the Las Vegas branch of the Creative Mornings lecture series.)

Our next major exhibition, Tested Ground, began with the idea of a single drawing by New Yorker Joan Linder and expanded to include a series of other artists who, like her, focus their work on the marks our civilization leaves on the land it inhabits. (Artists, naturally, leave marks too.) Focusing primarily – but not exclusively – on the American Southwest, Tested Ground inspired us to commission a site-specific installation for the garden signs outside the Museum’s walls. Katarina Jerinic, who is based in on the East Coast but has family in Las Vegas, visited the city several times to figure out the parameters of her project, a map of the ‘stars’ in Las Vegas place names. Astronomy of the Asphalt Ecliptic is still on view.


Meanwhile the Dalí exhibition gave way to D.K. Sole’s Play On, Gary, Play On, a homage to the earlier days of the Barrick collection and a reflection on the moment that passes between reaching and touching.

Our next round of openings, which took place on October 6th, was part of a cross-campus reception that encompassed all of the different parts of the College of Fine Arts, with everything from operatic tenors singing on balconies to Phillip Zawarus from Architecture inviting visitors to build their own digital mountains and lakes in an interactive map. This kind of mass departmental cross-pollination was something we’d been wanting to do for a while. Our major show this time was Preservation, assembled by guest curator Aurora Tang of the Los Angeles Center for Land Use Interpretation. Tang had held a Visiting Artist lecture at the Barrick in 2016, and her ideas sounded so interesting that our ears pricked up. Plans for a collaboration developed over the ensuing year. The exhibition she put together, which will be up until January 20th, embraces a wide range of media, from the science-infused metaphor-laden objects of Candice Lin, to the raw communicative processes of Ocean Earth’s Peter Fend, and the destabilising sound work of German artist Moritz Fehr.

Preservation will be followed on February 2nd by Plural. As part of our efforts to develop ourselves in 2017, we searched the Barrick collection critically for gaps we needed to fill. In consultation with some longtime Las Vegas artists we started the job of filling those gaps. The process will be a long one, and it isn’t complete, but we hope Plural will give you some idea of the course we hope to pursue in the future.

Preservation was (and still is) accompanied in the West Gallery by Shelly Volsche’s liminal. The exhibtion, which will come down at the same time as Preservation, includes work by China Adams, Sush Machida Gaikotsu, Brent Sommerhauser, and Michael Ogilvie.

One of the nice surprises of this exhibition has been to see how eager children are to initate conversations about Adams’ enigmatic line of “rocks”.


Preservation has its own film in the auditorium, a subtle teaser called Waiting for the Flood. Every change between exhibitions this year has been the start of a new film or film series. Cannarozzo even put together a film festival to go with the Dalí exhibition, and we saw a gratifying number of people come out on a Friday night to watch the oldest full-length film still in existence, a silent 1911 Italian version of the Inferno.

Josh Azzarella showed a series of his manipulated film works in the auditorium in tandem with Process, and Casey Roberts screened three of his short independent movies under the collective title, Sometimes I Dream of Myself as Two People, during the run of Tested Ground.

The auditorium was used for other things as well. Once again the College of Liberal Arts gave us the rewarding pleasure of hosting their University Forum Lecture Series, introducing us to lecturers in a radical diversity of specialisations that this year included everything from revolt as a philosphical and political act (Ferguson, Baltimore, Charlotte, and Other Ghost Stories, delivered by Richard Gilman-Opalsky) to an extinguished star (Supernova 1987A: 30 Years Later by Stephen H. Lepp), the relationship between domestic space and wartime propaganda (Mrs. Miniver Builds the Home Front, by Melissa Dinsman), and Baroque Music accompanied by a live harpsichord (What’s ‘Baroque’ About Baroque Music, by Jonathan Rhodes Lee).

And as always the Department of Art sent us a wonderful line-up of visiting artist lecturers — painters, sculptors, performers, curators, installation artists, experimental theater designers, and more — people like Wendy White, Analia Saban, Asher Hartman, Amir H. Fallah, and Marcos Ramírez ERRE, who told us that he “believes in beauty” but “ideas are more important.”

Two of the Preservation artists spoke at the Barrick as part of that lecture series: Candice Lin and the innovative nonfiction filmmaker Brigid McCaffrey, who reflected on the difficulty of trying to present truth in a medium that can never be completely true. Adam Bateman – the artist behind the concrete Monolith sculpture – spoke here as well. There were other artist talks. Two of the Process artists, Kara Joslyn and John Bauer, visited us in February and April for workshops and discussions. The painter Clarity Haynes and the artist-author Sharon Louden were here for a panel with local artists Justin Favela, Wendy Kveck, and Andreana Donahue. What does it meant to be an artist in society? they wondered.

Puppies Puppies produced a pop-up performance in the auditorium in January, and Dave Hickey – who really needs no introduction around here – delivered four talks on writing and art in October and December. The Latinos Who Lunch podcast used the Braunstein room for a film shoot and brought members of the Boys and Girls Club to the museum to talk about Mexican culture in front of the masks. The actor Matthew Grey Gubler dropped by for an award ceremony wearing a memorable cardigan decorated with horses.


More happened. Opportunities arose, surprising us. Seeing the mask exhibition, Dance Professor Louis Kavouras asked if he could introduce us to the costumes of the modernist choreographer Erick Hawkins and went on to oversee several productions of Hawkins’ pioneering dances in the gallery space. Charles Halka from Music Department brought his daughter to one of our Art and Culture Days (more on them in a moment), fell into conversation with our Interim Executive Director Alisha Kerlin, and consequently decided to revisit us with a group of composers from the School of Music, who drew inspiration from the art in October and then returned again in December to see their pieces performed next to the works that inspired them.

One of those performers, the harpist Emily Montoya Barnes, had also appeared at the October 6th reception and at the second of those two Art and Culture days, a pair of free all-ages art celebrations with workshops, participatory events, live acts, and storytime readings. (Clark County Library helped us out with the readings. As usual we are grateful and impressed by the number of talented people who are willing to join us in these adventures.) Over four hundred members of the community took part. We’re planning more of these days for 2018. Stay tuned.

Those two Art Days were fun, but they had the more serious aim of making families aware of the museum as a cultural resource. Bringing the community into the museum was one of our goals for 2017. What about schools? Learning that the main barrier to field trips was the cost of renting buses, we figured out how much money we would need to cover transport for four busloads of students per week and opened up a community fundaraising campaign. Thanks to generous individuals like yourself, we were able to offer all of the Valley’s CCSD teachers the opportunity to bring their classes to the museum free of charge for tours and hands-on artmaking workshops. We held the first tour on October 10th and they are continuing into 2018. So far we have hosted ten schools and over six hundred students, not counting teachers and parent chaperones. We’re constantly impressed by the ideas the students raise. They help us to think in new ways about the art we look at every day. (One girl observed, uniquely, that the the grey arc of Monolith looked like “a stingray” and she was absolutely right.)

Finally, we updated our name and – thanks to a kind donor who prefers to remain anonymous – our exterior signs. Along with the refurbishment began the process of assembling our press archive into a more formal record of the Barrick’s history with help from librarian Richard Zwiercan. Alisha capped off the year by winning one of only three of the university’s inaugural Top Tier Awards “for outstanding contributions.”

We want to see you at the Barrick again next year. As always, entry is free. Parking will cost you nothing on weekends. Come by as we debut a number of new large-scale projects featuring art that questions the boundaries between graffiti and the gallery wall and some phenomenal interactive sculptures powered by – what sounds like the least likely set of words here? – electric fans? 

Yes. Again, stay tuned.


The photographs in this post were taken by (in order) : Cord Exum (A visitor looking at a painting by Lester Monzon in Process), Josh Hawkins (One of the most popular groupings in Masking), fotoahoy (Artist Nicolas Shake walking through Tested Ground – the pale sculpture behind him is his Two Broken Shovels, 2016), Mikayla Whitmore (A visitor in Moritz Fehr’s Colosseum), Josh Hawkins (A dancer performing Erick Hawkins’ Plains Daybreak in the Braunstein Room), and Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services (Four visitors playing Museum I-Spy on Art and Music Day). Thanks to the other photographers who have visited us this year: Checko Salgado, Zachary Krill, Ed Fuentes …

A Day with LVCCLD


On October 20th, a few members of the museum staff went on a field trip. D.K. Sole writes about it.

Darren Johnson, the Gallery Services Coordinator for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library system, is here to show us his spaces. Not all cities have rooms reserved for art exhibitions in their libraries but we have — “How many?” we ask him. Twelve, he says. We visit the one at the Clark County Library branch first because it’s the closest. We won’t have time to see them all.

He tries to organize the exhibitions so that they match the other events in the branch, he explains, showing us the work of Greg Preston, a local photographer who has been making portraits of celebrities in comics and animation. The Las Vegas Comic Book Festival is scheduled at the same library branch on November 4th. Later in the day at Enterprise Library, Johnson will tell us that he decided to exhibit Sarah Petkus and Mark Koch’s Light Play here because the piece is neon and kinetic — “the robots,” he calls it — and this library building hosts DJ classes. It’s not always possible to match the art to the event, but he does it whenever he can.

Another library employee, recognizing him, urges him to make a studio visit to an artist who might be able to show in one of their galleries: “She is a Native American spirit performer and she does multimedia things …”

Is that how artists usually find themselves showing at the library galleries? Through studio visits? No: he says, they can submit a proposal themselves. He promises to send us a link to the guidelines. Entering the new Clark County Library computer lab we all look at Orlando Montenegro Cruz’s huge canvas Continuity Rhythm, 2010. The library system has its own collection of artwork, explains Johnson. Almost all of it is on display. We’ll see the storage room later. People’s heads are rearing up behind the regular shapes of the monitors. Regular and irregular forms, we notice; and throughout the bookshelves people are contrasted against the rectangular shapes of the books. The form of the rectangle runs through the building. Here is the shape of the canvas and the pedestal.



We drive on. The gallery at the West Las Vegas branch is full of Kip Miller’s surrealist paintings. “This was one of those times when the artist brought so much work that we couldn’t fit it all on the walls,” explains Johnson. He is modest about his role as a curator, saying that he more or less trusts the artist to bring him the right pieces for the show they want, but he also recounts a debate he had with Miller over whether the works should hang in chronological order or in thematic groups. At one point we ask him how many shows he hangs in the library galleries each year. About seventy-five to eighty, he replies thoughtfully. Once upon a time the library system held its own juried shows as well, but they were a lot of work to organize and the artists often forgot to pick up their art again afterwards. Now they sometimes host exhibitions of work that has already passed through the jury processes of Las Vegas’ regional art groups: the Las Vegas Artists Guild, the Las Vegas Woodturners, the Las Vegas Polymer Clay Guild, and a number of others, about fifteen in total.

The Polymer Clay Guild and the Woodturners are on display in high glass cases around the walls of an annex at Sahara West Library. Artists from Opportunity Village have the other annex. The room between them is showing Anthony Bondi. On the elevated balcony of a closed side room we discuss the chances of an artist residency. A door leads out to a narrow courtyard. In the other direction we’re shown the storage area where the off-display pieces of the library’s collection are maintained carefully in shelves, drawers, and racks. The racks are numbered one to eleven. Johnson pulls one of them out and a portrait of a woman’s head ballooning against a bright green background comes into view. This balloon stands displaced in mid air. A metal boy is lying on top of the flat files cabinet behind us. On the way out of the building we stop to say hello to two artists who have been looking at Bondi’s collages. One of them, Dave Mazur, is showing his paintings in the gallery at the Centennial Hills branch and we go there next to see them – a room of sunlit scenery watercolors, of mountains, trees, grass, sky, and burros standing by foliage. This building is LEED certified, says Johnson.

There must be a substantial number of Las Vegas artists who can say at any given moment, like Mazur, “I am showing at a library gallery,” and an even larger number who can say, “I have shown at a library gallery,” or “I will show at a library gallery.” Think of them all bound together through LVCCLD: it is amazing. Do other cities have this connection? A small boy strides into the gallery and makes a show of rushing around shouting “Boring, boring!” at everything without looking at it. His eye is on his mother outside. This is a performance of independence, like any act of criticism, though later he will learn not to be so transparent about his motives.

He has recognized the gallery as a place where something is being asked of him. This seems right. He knows that it wants a new kind of attention from him, something that is not the same as the attention he shows outside, in the corridor, in the carpark, or in the book-area of the library. Nor is it the attention of a classroom. His reaction to the demand must be complicated. By shouting, “Boring,” he is trying to make it as stupid as possible. Stupidity in this setting is defiance of the demand. Once he has pointed vigorously at all of the paintings he runs back to his mother as if he has come off a stage. Sometimes someone in the library system will try to close down a gallery space, says Johnson. They want to change it into an after-school homework room. He goes to meetings and defends the galleries. “I think it does something for the community. If [the libraries] become just a career center they lose that culture; they become a sad place.” He wonders if some of the rooms could be developed into “STEAM maker spaces, where you can make art and look at art too.” But the boy who shouted “Boring!” was already making something.

Now we are on the road again after visiting Lolita Develay’s paintings at West Charleston. It’s getting late. We need to be back at the museum. Everyone in the car is reluctant. There are still so many galleries we haven’t seen. “Do you have time for one quick little visit along the way?” Johnson proposes. “It’s the robots …”



Top: Johnson at Sahara West Library with The Art of Anthony Bondi.

Center: The Sahara West Gallery Services storage area.

Bottom: Johnson at Enterprise Library making an adjustment to Light Play by Sarah Petkus and Mark Koch.