TIME’S UP: Wynn Art Gallery closes


  If you have a Rolex, it’s time to check it and note the passing of the Wynn Art Gallery. If you don’t have a Rolex, you’ll be able to purchase one at the Wynn Las Vegas Rolex store on the site of the closed Wynn Art Gallery.
  Turns out casino boss Steve Wynn is in it for the money, not just the Monet, after all.
  That’s no sin or surprise. Fact is, and contrary to a lot of the hot air pumped into this story by the local art elite crowd, the appearance of masterpieces on the Strip was never about art. It was about marketing and tax-sheltered self-aggrandizement.
  The latest generation of casino operator commonly confuses his acquired taste with that of the general public, and this is one of many examples. When the Fertitta family started spending Bellagio-size money to create neighborhood casinos, they’d officially drunk their own bath water.
  The same is true for Wynn, who at least has a fuller understanding of the marketing image he’s worked to project.
  The sadly comic part is, some smart people from the local art world embraced this concept to the exclusion of the obvious: Tourists don’t come to Las Vegas to look at art, and locals don’t want to go to casino resorts to gawk at it.
  Here’s UNLV’s resident expert, the gifted writer and critic Dave Hickey, quoted in an article on the newdesignworld.com Web site on the failure of the Las Vegas gallery scene: “We were just wrong. I thought there would be more support from the middle class and there wasn't. Nobody in Vegas is particularly interested in cosmopolitan culture.”
  I’m guessing that, by percentage, about as many people in Las Vegas are willing to frequent a major art gallery as the folks in, say, Phoenix and Cleveland are. The difference? We don’t display major works outside the casino setting. Locals have no investment, and the folks with the money are more interested in using art as a marketing tool than as part of a foundation that changes the course of this wayward community.
  Should the tiger and dolphin exhibits some day be removed from the Mirage, someone is sure to say it’s because Las Vegans just aren’t interested in animals or in supporting their own large-scale zoo.
  Meanwhile, the diminutive Las Vegas Zoo drew 50,000 visitors last year without the support of a wealthy foundation.
  Who knows where an art museum and zoo would be if the wealthy actually put their money up in place of their marketing concepts?