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Pop Vegas: An art experience for the Instagram age

It’s not a museum.

It’s also not an exhibit, and it’s not quite a gallery.

And while it will feature a rotating selection of carefully curated art, selected specifically to explore prevalent cultural themes, it’s not an exhibition either.

For some, Pop Vegas can best be described by the things that it isn’t. But for Instagram users, it can easily be identified as the first selfie-driven immersive art experience to open in Las Vegas.

“This is a lot more fun than a museum or exhibition,” says Pop Vegas Project Manager Brian Paco Alvarez. “This is immersive and photo-oriented and designed for people to take selfies and post on Instagram.”

Pop Vegas at the Linq Promenade is Las Vegas’ newest foray into the growing trend of hyper-immersive art experiences. Photos from New York and San Francisco pop-ups such as Museum of Ice Cream and Color Factory became Instagram gold in the past couple of years. And young people’s interests in graphic, participatory art has only grown.

“Except this will be better,” Alvarez says. “Because we’re Vegas.”

The concept behind Pop Vegas is the quarterly rotation of pop culture pop-ups in the former Polaroid Museum venue.

Guests will meander through the space, moving through rooms and spaces that explore that pop-up’s theme in a different way. Each area will offer an element that invites visitors to look at, manipulate or pose with.

“There will be interactive pieces, things to touch, things that happen when you touch them,” Alvarez teases about the first upcoming theme. “It’s getting away from that typical museum feel.”

Alvarez has a professional history curating art and culture in Las Vegas, including stops at several local museums and the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

“I thrive on this sort of thing,” Alvarez says of his newest gig. “This is a blast to put together.”

While the trend of aesthetically designed spaces created to be photographed is relatively new, Alvarez argues that experiential art is an old concept. “It’s installation art. And artists have been doing it for a long time.”

Where these installations used to be found in museums, now they are manifesting in accessible, nontraditional spaces.

“Now it’s just a matter of bringing it to the masses,” Alvarez explains. “It makes art more equitable and more quality-driven. It’s no longer just for people who ‘get it.’ ”

The first theme to take over the space will explore the history and current trends of tattoos.

Alvarez gestures around the empty rooms. “We’ll have bicycles over here,” he says pointing at broad windows that overlook the Linq Promenade. “The faster you pedal, the more an image will appear on the wall.”

By late January, when the attraction is slated to open, the white walls will be decorated with vivid images. The space will include a runway, large-scale photographs and mannequins. “And some figures that you think are mannequins,” Alvarez says, smiling. “It’s going to be very Vegas.”

One way the venue is imbuing Vegas into the space is with the addition of spirit tastings. “Pop Vegas is definitely open to families,” Alvarez says. “And there will be beer, wine and liquor tastings for adults throughout the experience.”

Upcoming themes will touch on other forms of art that may be more familiar to Las Vegas locals than they are to art galleries.

“We have so much art in this city,” says Alvarez. “From the architects who design buildings and performers in Cirque and anyone in the hospitality industry. It’s going to be a fun, immersive, only-in-Vegas experience.”

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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