Hey Terminator -- how about some speed dating?
Might wind up with one of the rather robotic chicks looming inside these paintings.
"I'd hate to meet that mannequin in a dark alley, it looks like a cyborg from hell," says Patrick Gaffey, cultural program supervisor of the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department, gazing upon what could be the missus for Ahnold's machine man. "But it's a very attractive cyborg."
Yes, in a cold, distant way -- one of the points of Lolita Develay's "Window Shopping" exhibit at the Winchester Cultural Center Gallery. Billed as "exploring spirituality, race, sexuality and ideals of beauty within America's growing socioeconomic divide" through the artist's oil and watercolor works, it also addresses "desire, consumption and class within contemporary culture."
Ever pass by those impossibly high-end clothing and jewelry stores Vegas specializes in and feel like a street urchin, your nose pressed against the window, feeling unworthy to breathe the same air as the sophisticates inside?
"Like everybody else, I appreciate beauty and fashion," says Develay, 50, an ex-L.A. commercial artist and advertising exec now earning her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"When I went down to CityCenter, it was like a ghost town in there. It was such a strong sense of distance between the stores and the consumers. The typical consumer just does not have that kind of money to spend on that product."
Working off photographs, Develay creates fascinating counterpoints in which vibrantly colored but unsettlingly anthropomorphized figures -- the ones on which is draped haute couture most people can't come near affording -- seem imperious and impervious.
"Capitalism creates a lot of wealth, but it's completely soulless," Gaffey says. "Capitalism doesn't care what you buy or what you do with it after you buy it, it just wants you to spend money."
Clutching purses, holding aloft shoes, sporting bracelets, wearing ornate coats -- all of them, she says, based on Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli and Versace stock -- the bald mannequins sport a shiny, vaguely scary implacability, as if reflecting the alien quality to the masses of those who shop in this rarefied air.
That extends to the few male mannequins as well, tailored in suits one would expect on guests at a Steve Wynn soiree.
Only thing missing? Humans. Throughout the dozen-piece exhibit, only one clerk appears, hidden in the background of one painting.
Surely, Develay says, there is "back-store" activity, in which clothing is sent up to a phalanx of wealthy hotel guests to try on, but outwardly the stillness is eerie.
"The whole space might be intimidating for people: It's such a massive space and it doesn't pull you in, it pushes you back," Develay says.
"I tried to paint attitude into the mannequins. Even the angles I painted them from, the mannequins are looking down at you and they face off with you, they're slightly higher than you, like a hierarchy."
Yet that chasm couldn't exist without consumers who, even if they can't buy the products, buy into what they represent.
"I've been observing the human zoo for years, and this says a lot about the values I see in society," Develay says, pointing out the pull-and-tug between the importance we place on family and relationships -- the true wealth of our lives, or so we tell ourselves -- and the intense pressure of the consumer culture and our desire to conform.
"We want what we can't have. There's something sinister even about ourselves and our desires. You want the all-American family, but at the same time, you want to be one of the Kardashians. These are things we look up to because if we didn't, they couldn't possibly exist."
Not that anyone's drawing parallels between the Kardashians and these soulless but fashionable terminatrixes. ... Not really.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.