Updated April 15, 2021 - 10:53 pm
The West Las Vegas Arts Center might be sometimes easy to miss for motorists along Lake Mead Boulevard, and several years ago, city Arts Commissioner John Trimble found himself often driving by the turnoff.
So, when Trimble proposed installing an identifying landmark outside the center, opened in 1995, there was a degree of utility to his suggestion. But when the long-awaited project was unveiled Thursday in the city’s Historic Westside, it was hailed as much more than a means of wayfinding.
“Whenever you see this landmark, remember that the Historic Westside is, always will be, a strong foundation to the city of Las Vegas and everyone who lives here,” he said.
After more than five years of collaboration between the city and local community members, officials celebrated the latest distinctive pieces of public art in Las Vegas: Two nearly 15-foot-tall sculptures titled “Queen of the Arts.”
The sculptures that now flank the entrance to the arts center were created by renowned international artists Gus and Lina Ocamposilva. Each sculpture is red, gray and gold and depicts the elegant side profile of a woman who appears to be a traditional African queen. The profile is visible on either side of the sculptures, which are accented by silhouettes of dancers and musicians as well as common symbols for theater and art.
The artists were unable to attend the unveiling to speak about the pieces, but Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the sculptures represented “the perfect touches” for the neighborhood and the center, which she described as “a true gathering place of learning, culture and celebration for the residents of this community.”
The Las Vegas Arts Commission and the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs worked with community members to identify public art suitable for the site, according to Goodman. The Howard Hughes Corp. recently gave $40,000 through the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE — a vehicle for donors to contribute to the city — to complete and install the sculptures.
Councilman Cedric Crear, who represents Ward 5 where the arts center is located, said the Historic Westside often does not get the attention it deserves, but he vowed that change continues to be underway.
“The Westside is starting to come alive again, starting to revitalize again to its potential as the true gem of the region’s history,” he said.
A previous version of this story misspelled the names of the artists, Gus and Lina Ocamposilva.