Takin’ it to the streets.
Street theater. Street art. And, speaking of art, a gallery that was a motel in its previous life.
That’s the eclectic picture planned for the upcoming Life Is Beautiful festival, which will take over 15 blocks of downtown Las Vegas Oct. 26 and 27.
In addition to a variety of musical and culinary luminaries, Life Is Beautiful will spotlight a variety of art forms.
“Our goal is to create a live urban gallery that is essentially woven into our festival footprint,” festival co-founder Rehan Choudhry said. “We want to expose our festivalgoers to many types of artistic mediums.”
One is performance art, which conveniently happens to be a Las Vegas trademark.
Accordingly, Life Is Beautiful will feature performers who usually strut their stuff on the Strip.
Cast members from five Cirque du Soleil shows — “Love,” “Mystere,” “O,” “Zarkana” and “Zumanity” — will perform at Sixth and Fremont streets, while Life Is Beautiful’s downtown stage will present excerpts from the newest Cirque show, “Michael Jackson One.”
As a result, “LIB patrons will get an up-close-and-personal look at Cirque du Soleil outside of our theaters on the Strip,” notes Jerry Nadal, senior vice president of Cirque’s resident show division in Las Vegas. (Nadal will join several other Cirque colleagues at a “Learning Is Beautiful” panel Saturday.)
Performers from Human Nature and Recycled Percussion, two other troupes that perform regularly on the Strip, also are scheduled to hit the streets during the festival.
Rise Above, the festival’s street art program, will draw an international array of artists, who will transform downtown Las Vegas with their wall-sized creations.
Curator Charlotte Dutoit met with festival organizers and visited the downtown site, “full of gigantic walls everywhere and abandoned motels, and I realized the potential for a solid and ambitious street art festival, mostly with overscale murals,” she says in an email interview.
And “with downtown, we are talking about huge murals,” Dutoit adds. “The tallest one is a six-floor building. I selected the top muralists around the globe that have the talent and skills to transform huge walls into massive art pieces.”
Among them: Portugal’s Vhils, Britain’s D*Face, Ukraine’s Interesni Kazki, Brazil’s Bicicleta Sem Frio, along with U.S.-based artists Aware (Las Vegas), HOTTEA (Minneapolis) and Zio Ziegler (San Francisco).
“Naturally I don’t need asking twice to come and put my artwork on buildings in the public domain,” D*Face e-mails, “so being invited over was an offer I can’t refuse! I have two large murals planned and a few small anecdotal pieces to paint around the city for the unsuspecting public to discover. … I only ever want the public to question their relationship with their surroundings and thus my work, to look and not just see.”
Rounding out the Life Is Beautiful arts lineup: The Odyssey, a visual art program headquartered in the former Town Lodge motel.
Curated by Patrick Duffy, former president of the Las Vegas Art Museum, The Odyssey showcases work by everyone from Andy Warhol — which pairs the artist’s “screen tests” of studio visitors with music by Dean and Britta to 6-year-old local Jonah Jakin.
Local galleries (Trifecta and Vast Space Projects) have curated their own exhibits; works by Clark County School District students and Opportunity Village artists also will be on display.
“To have the opportunity to share the work of Opportunity Village’s amazing artists is incredible,” according to Opportunity Village officials Krysti Gabriel and Cary Harned Sr. “The artists are so talented and the OV Fine Arts Studio has given them the chance to draw out their creative abilities, to find their inner voices and become respected and collected artists.”
Although The Odyssey includes a wide range of artists, Duffy wanted to have a “very Vegas-centric” element, showcasing local “artists who are working so hard to make a name for themselves.”
Overall, “we wanted to create a journey of art,” Duffy explains. “For those who will be part of the festival, come on down and take a look.”
Contact reporter Carol Cling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0272.