No, we don’t live in the casinos. And most of us don’t live on the Strip. In our free time, we’re more likely to go to a show or read a book or have dinner with our families than we are to sit at a slot machine.
But as Las Vegans, we often have to explain that to the folks back home or those who come to visit.
“It gets old defending your hometown,” says Beverly Rogers, who moved to Las Vegas when she was 12. “I hated going back to Philly and people making fun of where I live.”
Rogers, co-founder of the nonprofit Rogers Foundation, has wanted her whole life to help put Las Vegas on the map and prove that there’s more to this town than the glitter of the Strip.
With the upcoming opening of The Lucy, she thinks she’s finally done it. Rogers is expanding her literacy and arts-focused philanthropy to include the new creative community.
The Lucy will be many things. Ask Rogers about it and she’ll excitedly tell you about all of them — quite possibly all at once.
The Lucy will be anchored by The Writer’s Block’s new location — expanded to make it the largest independent bookstore in Nevada. It will feature a cafe and dedicated event space.
Above the bookstore will be a dozen loft-style residences, three of which are allotted for artists and writers who are working to make lasting impacts on the Las Vegas Valley.
Lofts will be reserved for artists in residence and fellows of UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute, a literary hub that aims to bring writers to the heart of global conversations.
A large outdoor venue will be home to various events in collaboration with The Believer Festival, among others.
Rogers sees the space being used as a center for creatives in Las Vegas. It will represent one more space for artists, writers and musicians to meet and collaborate.
The Lucy gets its name from the Latin word for “light.” “We’re shining a light on the arts community in Las Vegas,” she says. Lucy is also the name of her dog. The Lucy’s logo looks like an open book — but also like a sunrise.
For Rogers, it’s something that Las Vegas has been longing for.
“There are a number of large arts groups coming in,” she says. “Between Life is Beautiful and the Arts District, The Smith Center, Downtown Project — this will be a mecca for all kinds of arts. This will be a way for people to congregate, create and communicate.”
The Writer’s Block
“It began a couple of years ago when I bought out Downtown Project’s interest in The Writer’s Block,” Rogers says.
As partial owner alongside Drew Cohen and Scott Seeley, Rogers’ priority became finding a larger home for the Fremont Street store.
“We looked at a number of buildings that needed renovations for too high a cost,” she says.
Rogers caught wind of a deal that was falling through for an eventual office and restaurant space at Sixth Street and Bonneville Avenue downtown.
“We wanted the whole space for the bookstore,” Rogers says. “We bought the whole project.”
Tentatively scheduled to open March 1, the new Writer’s Block will house nearly 1 million books and include a 60-person-capacity venue for hosting events that the store has developed over almost four years at its former location.
The shop will retain its artificial bird sanctuary theme. “It’s going to have a lot of exposed wood and these big metal trusses going in. We’ll have a 16-foot-tall birdcage around the checkout area,” Cohen says.
Cohen and Seeley plan to continue their series of book clubs, readings and signings. They’re eager to continue field trips in the larger venue.
“We do a writing program for young children where they come up with stories to please my scary boss, The Baron,” Seeley says. “At the end of the program, we present their printed stories to him. And the kids are shocked.”
The Baron, The Writer’s Block resident rabbit, also will be moving into the new digs.
Seeley is working on bookworm infestations — shadow boxes with goofy bookworms tucked behind random children’s books.
Other additions will be further collaborations for BMI and Lucy residents and a small coffee shop.
“This is designed as a place to congregate,” Rogers says. “A coffee shop will be a good place to do that.”
The Lucy’s corner won’t see the same foot traffic as The Writer’s Block’s former location, but Seeley and Cohen say the new location offers plenty of opportunity.
“We learned that foot traffic is not our customer base. It’s a destination location,” Seeley says. “So many people come to Las Vegas against their will — for conferences or their cousin’s wedding. They’re nerdy book people like us. They’re looking for a bookstore.”
Contact Janna Karel at jkarel @reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.
Calling all artists
The Rogers Art Loft is accepting applications for its first artist in residence.
Orchestrated by Nevada School of the Arts President and CEO Patrick Duffy, the Rogers Art Loft aims to attract national and international artists to Las Vegas and give them a place where they can contribute their artistry to the Las Vegas community while unburdened by daily stressors.
“The end result is that, at the end of their two- to eight-week residency, they share with Las Vegas what they made over the course of their immersion,” Duffy says.
Along with a residence, artists will be provided with studio space at surrounding partner locations, stipends for food, materials and transportation, and opportunities for dinners, workshops and performances within Las Vegas.
“Every artist has something to say,” Duffy says. “They have a penchant to create something from within themselves to share with the world. We want to give them time with minimal distraction and maximum space to get into themselves so they can create a piece made from insightful introspection.”
Artists in residence will be obligated to contribute to the community during their time here.
“The most deliverable,” Duffy says, “is they will create one physical piece of work that will stay in Las Vegas.”
Ideally, the effect will be twofold. Artists will gift a painting or sculpture or performance to the community but also take something with them.
“My hope,” Rogers says, “is that they stay long enough to fall in love with the town. That they go back home and tell their community, ‘Hey, here’s what’s happening in Las Vegas.’ “
Artists can apply for the residency through Feb. 28. One artist will be selected at a time.
The event space
The Lucy’s parking lot doubles as a 300-person outdoor venue.
Santa Fe, New Mexico-based art collective Meow Wolf is teaming up to implement a creative setup for a satellite Believer Festival event.
The art group made its first mark in Las Vegas with the Art Motel takeover at 2017’s Life is Beautiful festival and will move into Area 15 later this year.
The Believer Festival, put on by UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute, is a celebration of writing, music and the visual arts. It kicks off at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and expands into various sites throughout downtown Las Vegas. The third annual festival is slated for April 25.
Other events for The Lucy’s event space will be determined at a later date, but Rogers sees the potential as boundless.