Many Las Vegans think of downtown and First Friday when talking about the local art scene. But now, a new venue for artists has opened on the west side of town.
The Summerlin Art Group had its grand opening the weekend of June 26 to celebrate the opening of the its art school and gallery at 7885 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 108.
“What we’re trying to do is establish some synergy for art in the Summerlin area,” said Ernesto Chavez, one of five principals in the business. “I think a lot — all of us are, or were — members of the Clark Country Artist Guild, and most members are in the Summerlin area, so it’s very convenient to have classes here instead of having to go far away. So, it’s a matter of convenience, being more centrally located.”
The studio sports an open ceiling with rack lighting hanging from the rafters. The floor is painted concrete. The walls are painted a neutral light gray with white above. The open floor plan was conducive to holding art classes. More than 40 pieces of framed artwork lined the walls.
Only one display case was on site, housing a Zuni-inspired piece of hand-worked silver and turquoise jewelry. The case also held carvings from a warthog tusk and whale tooth. The case was flanked by alabaster carvings.
Another principal is Jan Schaeffer, an artist for roughly 50 years. She works in acrylics and water colors.
“The colors are brighter,” she said. “I can go back … and play a little with them. There are almost no spaces (for artists to hang their work.) You had to go downtown, and then, you had to come with a name, come with a following. This is perfect, and it’s a local establishment. You don’t have to go downtown.”
Dennis Watts is one of the photographers associated with the business. To find his topics, he said he likes “to go to the West Coast and off the beaten path in national parks and those kinds of things. I try to find areas, scenes, that people haven’t seen, that are new. Aloe Canyon is frequented, but I don’t think anyone has (come away with) the same type of imagery that I have.”
Various classes are set to be offered for adults Mondays through Saturdays, such as anatomy studies, water medium, oil painting, advanced painting, live model sketch sessions (life drawing), photography and PhotoShop classes. The last two will be open to eight participants for more hands-on training. The life drawing classes will be limited to 10 participants. For newbies, there’s a Basics of Drawing class.
Children are not left out. On Wednesdays and Fridays, Art for Kids is slated, a two-hour class, one for ages 8-12 and one for those 13-15.
For those who like group activities, the group plans to host paint parties. Paint parties have a group of people using the same picture as a reference, then painting it in their own style.
“The instructor will say, ‘Here’s our objective; here’s what we want to paint; here are the strokes, the technique,’ and everybody gets a sample of the picture they’re going to (interpret),” Chavez said. “No two (renderings) are going to be alike. It’s fun, and it’s meant to be a social, non-pressure type of activity. Nobody’s going to critique your work. You’re going to end up with your own piece of art that’s unique to you.”
The parties will have a two-hour time limit and use acrylic paint, as it dries very quickly. Paint parties will accommodate about 30 participants. Frames are available at Chavez’s framing studio, next door.
All the instructors’ works are on the walls — landscapes, subject studies, portraits. Not everything in the gallery was a painting. There are also photographs, carvings and jewelry.
Partner Ed Davis has 40 years of experience in painting. He said it wasn’t hard to locate a spot for the venture, as there are so many commercial vacancies in town, but having it near Summerlin was a priority.
“There were lots of spaces open, but it can be hard to work with the managers, hard to get the money together,” Davis said. “It’s the starving artist (scenario).”
He said his vision for the space is to to host events, have themed shows and offer classes.
Principal Jim Callaway, who had always planned to be an art teacher, had a change of heart about the time he entered college.
“My dentist retired at 42, and that sounded better than my artist friends who were starving,” he said. “So, I became a dentist.”
He eventually returned to his passion, realism paintings, and was represented by various galleries until the economic spiral. He now has many life-like examples on the wall of the Summerlin Art Group’s gallery. Callaway teaches the paint parties as well as individuals in realistic style renderings.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about four years ago, he said he finds painting to be therapeutic.
“It keeps the synapses going … I try to paint every day and start the day that way to loosen up, get the day off to a good start,” Callaway said.
Gwen Slocum of Sun City Summerlin stopped in. She has been painting for years but is continually taking lessons. Why?
“Because there’s always something new to learn, always,” Slocum said.
Jane Asari is a mixed media collage artist. She said it was wonderful to see a new art space open.
“I’m always excited because I don’t think there’s enough art in the world,” Asari said. “This is a nice, simple space. It shows off the paintings well. … I think what is missing in our world today is the humanities — music, art, song, dance. We’re so busy with science and math, we’ve forgotten about our hearts.”
Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.