Neon Museum artist-in-residence looks for Las Vegas signs

Allison Wiese is always looking for a sign — and the look of a sign.

Both of which make Las Vegas the ideal place to look for inspiration.

That’s exactly what Wiese, the Neon Museum’s 2017 national artist-in-residence, has been doing for the past month.

She concludes her residency Friday with a studio open house at the museum’s downtown Ne10 Building.

Inevitably, visitors to her studio will find a neon sign: one that reads “Bicker,” then “Banter” in glowing script.

It’s part of a “an open-ended series that comes to me when it comes to me,” Wiese says, devoted to hallmarks of classic Hollywood comedies, from “Slap Slap Kiss” to “Spit Take.” (The latter being that magic moment when a surprising statement or action inspires someone drinking coffee or tea — or something stronger — to spit out their beverage in surprise.)

But open house attendees also will find tambourines with statements painted on them. (Sample: 16th-century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne’s “The first step in the corruption of morals is the banishing of truth.”) Perhaps a swap-meet suitcase strung with tiny, blinking lights. And castings of blocks you might find in the patio walls of vintage Vegas homes — but made of sugar, not concrete.

Reflecting on her Las Vegas stay, “a month could be a lot of time — or not any time at all,” Wiese says during an interview at her Ne10 base. “I’m trying to spend time learning about Las Vegas.”

To that end, Wiese has explored various swaths of Southern Nevada, from the Strip and Glitter Gulch to the valley’s suburban edges.

Although there’s not much outward resemblance to her current base of San Diego, Wiese has detected “some similarities,” among them the “tourist economy” — and the impulse to alter the environment.

San Diego is “a coastal desert replanted to look Mediterranean,” Wiese notes, adding that Las Vegas specializes in inventing, and reinventing, itself, from an Old West town to a “cooler, more sophisticated” tourist draw.

“The physical space here is really interesting,” she observes, citing the juxtaposition of “a closed motel, which I find beautiful and interesting,” and an open-for-business casino.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Wiese never visited Las Vegas. “But as somebody who spent time as a teenager at Coney Island” she recognizes, in visitors to downtown Las Vegas, “such an intense goal of having fun.”

Two years ago, Wiese finally visited Las Vegas — with the Neon Museum a must-see.

Seeing “the scale of those signs, and the ability to be close to them,” Wiese says, was “a precious opportunity.”

After all, signs turn up repeatedly in Wiese’s art.

At the Sky Line Drive-in in Sheridan, Wyoming, Wiese replaced the current-attractions list on the marquee with this pickup line: “DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT OR SHOULD I WALK BY AGAIN.” On an upstate New York movie palace marquee, she created a similarly cheeky inquiry: “DID THE SUN COME OUT OR DID YOU JUST SMILE AT ME.”

From North Carolina to Texas to California, Wiese’s installations demonstrate that “I’ve always loved signage,” along with “the way signs work.”

During her Neon Museum residency, the artist enjoyed “a lovely tour of YESCO” (the sign company behind most of Las Vegas’ spectacular signs), which she likens to “Valhalla for anyone who’s ever made a project” in neon.

Another pilgrimage during her month in Nevada: a visit to land artist Michael Heizer’s “Double Negative” outside Overton.

Throughout her Southern Nevada stay, locals have been “great ambassadors, but honest ambassadors,” Wiese comments, “both over-the-top and self-effacing.”

And though Wiese “won’t be able to sum this up until I’m done,” she already knows one thing.

“The Neon Museum just made a really good friend,” she says. “My work may be changed by my being here.”

The Neon Museum residency

In its second year, the Neon Museum’s artist-in-residence program offers “unstructured time” for its recipient.

But “this isn’t just professional development,” says Cynthia Behr Warso, the museum’s director of education and engagement. “It’s about the museum reaching new audiences.”

This year, more than 20 artists applied for the residency, which is underwritten by grants from the federal National Endowment for the Arts and the state-funded Nevada Arts Council.

In addition to a stipend, the residency includes a travel allowance, lodging and studio space.

“The quality is more important than the quantity” of applicants, Warso comments. And this year, “100 percent of the applicants were way great.”

Both Allison Wiese, this year’s artist-in-residence, and 2016’s Whitney Lynn “are rather well-established,” Warso notes, and “have the experience to deal with the open-endedness” of the program.

In choosing a resident artist, the museum looks for “audience engagement” from applicants; Wiese, for example, delivered an artists’ talk halfway through her residency and will host an open house Friday.

“We’re open to anything the artist wants to do,” Warso says. “The projects usually have an afterlife.”

And by inviting outside artists to Las Vegas, she adds, “through their work, we’re gaining traction with some other artists.”

Contact Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @CarolSCling on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"The Lion King" roars into Las Vegas
New music club 172 brings loud luxury to Las Vegas
New music venue at the Rio brings rock ’n’ roll and food together at intimate club. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fans fear for Zak Bagans’ safety in Las Vegas Halloween TV special
Fly Linq zip line time lapse
Fly Linq zip line timelapse
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Shaq opens Las Vegas restaurant, Big Chicken
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu
Robert Deniro And Chef Nobu Talk About The Success Of Nobu (Al Mancini Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center
Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearses for "Dracula" at The Smith Center (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like