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
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like