One of the biggest complaints about Las Vegas I hear is that it lacks culture. It gives me a chuckle, because I disagree, we have culture it’s just unique to our city. It’s not New York or Chicago, but you don’t go to those cities expecting neon and sin, and fault them for it when they don’t measure up, do you?
No one can argue we have plethora entertainment; most often it’s when the topic is turned toward art that Las Vegas falls short. Another large complaint I hear is that our buildings are replicas of those famous in other cities; we destroy our history rather than embrace it. Sure, I can get nostalgic too, but newer, bigger and better it what sets Las Vegas apart from other cities. I love that about Las Vegas. Our city is young, it is growing and learning. This can be seen in our shift to recognize and appreciate the arts, locally and from across the globe. Las Vegas has been embracing local artists with First Fridays and galleries downtown. Henderson does the same with Third Thursdays. However, our city’s craving for art does not stop there.
Steve Wynn brought art to the heart of the strip when he opened Mirage, Bellagio and later, Wynn Las Vegas. We’ve been exposed to wonderful works by Renoir, Picasso and Chihuly to name a few. The Gallery of Fine Art inside Bellagio allows us a further look at a rotating set of artists. Fortunately, the gallery continues to thrive after the merger between Mirage Resorts, Inc. and MGM Grand, Inc. In fact, MGM Mirage brought us much more with the opening of CityCenter. Not only were the buildings designed by the finest architects in the world, but unique art installations are scattered all over the interiors and exteriors of CityCenter. CityCenter has even delivered my latest find, and new favorite place to recommend to friends and visitors. That is three unique exhibition venues found at Crystals Place, just outside the Mandarin Hotel. Admission is free at each of the exhibits.
The first, the GALLERY features work by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly. While, we know him best for the spectacular installation “Fiori di Como” that hangs in Bellagio’s hotel lobby, he got his start much earlier. He studied sculpture and glass in the 60’s, those lessons sealed his fate. He was a master when it came to blown glass sculpture. In, 1976 he was in a terrible car-accident, leaving his face severely cut by glass and blind in his left eye. He continued to blow glass until a body surfing accident a few years later. He had dislocated his shoulder as a result he was no long able to hold the glass blowing pipe. From that time on, he hired others to do the work. He learned that he actually enjoyed his work from that perspective. He is comfortable directing and watching his vision come to fruition.
His artistry comes to life at the GALLERY. The 4,350 square-foot space houses a diverse collection of his sculptures, drawings and prints. Every visit I get lost in his fluid forms and bright colors – they bring me great joy. After one visit it is easy to see why he’s played such a role in contemporary art. The GALLERY was the first exhibit to open its doors but there are now two others at Crystals Place.
Next door to Chihuly you will find sculptures by Richard MacDonald. He has received international acclaim for his understanding of the human form. Much of his work has been a result of a dear relationship with Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil. MacDonald captures the strength, joy and discipline of dancers and acrobats. His work is exhibited worldwide, but it’s his collection at Crystals Place that is one of his premier spaces. It is breathtaking, particularly the 40-foot waterwall in this 3,600 square-foot space.
After, you’ve been awed by the grace of the human body step over to Rodney Lough Jr.’s gallery to admire the beauty found in the wilderness. Lough began his professional life as a statistician and mathematician only to later learn his passion was ignited when behind the lens. In 1995, he made the shift to full time photographer. He has been shooting the wilderness and America’s National Parks and Monuments ever since. He is celebrated for his use of brilliant colors and dramatic textures in his landscape photography. One step inside, and you are immediately taken on a journey of Lough’s travels. We get to see the world through his eyes; it is quite the sensory experience. You will be shocked by the emotions these breathtaking scenes evoke.
Get out and enjoy the culture Las Vegas has to offer. With your support it can flourish. Who knows maybe one day we will rival cities like New York and Chicago?
Exhibits Hours of Operation:
Sunday – Thursday 10am – 11pm
Friday – Saturday 10am – 12am