The recent closure of the Las Vegas Art Museum knocked the delicate wind out of a segment of the valley’s elite, the folks who believe we’ll never become a sophisticated city without a big building devoted to famous paintings, sculptures and charitable mixers.
Before the last tear was dry on the cheek of the country club set, the folks who started the ball rolling but then lost enough interest to underwrite the museum through hard times, I had finished grieving and moved on. The LVAM was a fine place, but it couldn’t hold a candle to taking in even one First Friday celebration in the fledgling downtown arts district.
This isn’t a comparison of the quality of art. It’s a statement on the soul of art, and First Friday possesses the soul energy the rather sterile LVAM never did.
If Las Vegas ever creates its own art culture, it won’t come from the top, but from the bottom up in a place like the arts district.
Of course, I’m not expert.
Come to think of it, neither was Saint Mark of Missouri.
He wrote in 1867 in a letter to the San Francisco Alta: “It is a gratification to me to know that I am ignorant of art, and ignorant also of surgery. Because people who understand art find nothing in pictures but blemishes, and surgeons and anatomists see no beautiful women in all their lives, but only a ghastly stack of bones with Latin names to them, and a network of nerves and muscles and tissues.”
Clemens sitting for his portrait in alabaster
by Theresa Fedorowna Ries in Vienna 1897.
Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson.