Celine, Cirque du Soleil, showgirls: not tough sells in Las Vegas. Fine art: apparently something of a tough sell in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Art Museum, the 1st fine arts museum in southern Nevada, opened in 1974 and closed in 2009. According to Wikipedia it’s hoping to re-open when the economy improves.
In 2oo8 Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Arts moved to downtown Las Vegas. Conceived by a non-profit organization in 2003, SNMFA now had 20,000 square feet of exhibition space to feature the mostly contemporary works of local, regional, and international artists. Unfortunately, it’s in Neonopolis, a struggling retail/entertainment complex on the edge of the lively Fremont Street Experience on the 2nd floor. You have to know about SNMFA to find it because that won’t happen accidentally. The January, 2014, Where magazine lists Fremont Street Experience among Las Vegas attractions but not Neonopolis or SNMFA. When we visited for the 2nd time last week, the lights were off and Ruth & I weren’t sure it was open. It was. But we were the only visitors browsing the art and talking to delightful Lynn Jones, Volunteer Cooridnator, and talented Michael Griesgraber.
And that’s a shame. Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Arts is truly fine. I blogged about it in February, 2013 (Seek & Find Las Vegas’ SNMFA) when a new show, International Masters of Photography, was about to open. It currently features a lot of works by artist-in-residence and Design Curator Michael Griesgraber.
Griesgraber is definitely an artist to follow. After a 25 year advertising career in Minnesota and California, he moved to Las Vegas 12 years ago to devote full-time to painting. His Squared Series uses vivid colors and optical effects to create rhythms that bring jazz to mind, but these designs didn’t make me laugh like “Gauguin in the 21st Century”. Gauguin, French artist and Van Gogh friend, is now rumored to have cut off Van Gogh’s ear during an argument. Gauguin relocated to Tahiti where he painted lush native women and got into the culture enough to die of syphilis. Not known for his sense of humor, Gauguin gains that dimension in Griesgraber’s witty parodies like the one above. Google Diamond in the Rough-Saatchi Online to see an example of his optical art.
I just checked in July, 2016 to see if it’s still opened, and it is. When in Las Vegas, take the time to find Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art. You won’t be disappointed and, in addition to enjoying the works on display, you’ll discover a number of reasonably priced, museum-quality items for sale. Ruth told me to add that.