Las Vegas is best known for its glittering lights, 24-hour casinos and non-stop nightlife, but it’s also a place to experience art in many different forms. True to Vegas’ flashy reputation, the art mostly isn’t found in museums, but in nontraditional installations, on the streets and even along the famous Strip.
On the Cutting Edge: AREA15
AREA15 is a dramatic addition to the Las Vegas art scene. The massive warehouse-like space is home to Omega Mart by Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based art collective that’s grown into a full-scale entertainment force.
The immersive installation is a provocative grocery store spoof with “portals” that lead to the “corporate offices” behind it. Along the way, guests encounter individual multimedia pieces — some contributed by local artists. Pulse by Claudia Bueno, for example, is a room of layered acrylic plexiglass animated by light patterns.
AREA15 also blurs the line between art and entertainment with Wink World: Portals Into the Infinite (a colorful room-to-room journey by a Blue Man Group co-founder); Museum Fiasco (a hall of infinity mirrors with the energy and music of a nightclub); and Art Island (parking lot installations that include a towering owl, the remains of a jet fuselage and a reimagined version of the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign).
The Downtown Arts Scene
Vegas’ Downtown Arts District has morphed into a hub for local creators and street murals. Art Square and the Arts Factory are popular destinations for galleries, showrooms and workspaces. Explore both of these during First Friday, a free art walk and block party held the first Friday of each month.
The Fremont East district features street art created for the Life is Beautiful festival, which takes place in September. Installations include Mike Ross’ Big Rig Jig, a display of intertwined trucks at Fergusons Downtown. Murals inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement have also emerged at the site of the long-shuttered Moulin Rouge, the first desegregated casino in Las Vegas.
Indie Artists on the Strip
Even the famous Las Vegas Strip is getting artsy. The Fashion Show Mall makes a point to champion a variety of independent art — from a pair of hand-painted staircases near the east entrance to Katy Boynton’s Heartfullness, a steel heart sculpture once displayed at the Burning Man festival.
At the Museum of Dream Space, located at the Grand Canal Shoppes, projections, lights and other 3D components form a series of selfie stations. A similar exhibit, the Museum of Selfies is on display at The LINQ. Much like AREA15, both prove art and entertainment aren’t mutually exclusive and at least on occasion, the most interesting piece of art could be…you.
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