Laura Henkel initially created the annual “12 Inches of Sin” show to promote Sin City Gallery in The Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., but it quickly became more than a promotional tool.
“The show has taken on a life of its own, in many ways surpassing the gallery, but the two go hand in hand,” Henkel said. “Four years ago, I started with submissions from 40 artists from five countries. This year, it was 300 from 20 countries.”
The fourth annual “12 Inches of Sin” international juried exhibition was on display at the gallery in June. The gallery is now showing “Le Salon Des Refuses du Peche,” featuring 21 of the best works submitted for but omitted from this year’s “12 Inches of Sin.” The “Le Salon” show is set to run July 2 to Aug. 15.
The show features 12 works no larger than 12 inches in any dimension. The annual call for art seeks works that are intelligent, witty and provocative. They are chosen by 12 international judges.
The grand-prize winner is picked from the 12 entries by a second set of 12 judges, and the prize includes a solo show and being featured on the cover of the annual “12 Inches of Sin” art book, which reproduces images of the 12 pieces in the show, the works from the “Le Salon Des Refuses du Peche” and some of the other notable submissions.
Henkel has a Ph.D. in erotic art, specializing in museum science, from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. She came to town to help mount the exhibition at the Erotic Heritage Museum, 3275 S. Industrial Road, and serve as its first artistic director and associate curator. She said the exhibition has changed significantly, and now her focus is on the gallery, which features work celebrating human sexuality. She prefers to avoid the term “erotic art.”
“The term kind of makes me cringe,” Henkel said. “When most people think of erotic art, they think of pornography; they think of work that is less than stellar. The artwork that I present at the gallery is very sophisticated, humorous and transgressive.”
To that end, she wrote a manifesto redefining herself as a modern provocateur.
“Everyone has this notion that Las Vegas is Sin City, when it’s actually quite conservative,” Henkel said. “The culture is changing, though. It’s becoming more accepting. People are being realistic about who they are, and the artwork is reflecting who they are.”
Paloma Solamente, the gallery’s new manager, said there are three aspects to the business: the gallery; Art Culture PR, a social media public relations firm specializing in the promotion of artists; and “12 inches of Sin” and its related exhibitions and merchandise, including the invitation-only Party in the Afterglow. Solamente said she was pleased to become gallery manager.
“I’m in love with it,” Solamente said. “After being here, there and everywhere, I’m finally home. Once you are doing what you love to do, it’s not work anymore. It becomes you, and I’m Sin City Gallery.”
Submissions for the fifth “12 Inches of Sin” are scheduled to be accepted from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. Guidelines and other information are slated to be available at sincitygallery.com. An additional 12 works will be chosen this year in the category of “obscura,” for digital photography and film works.
“I never would have imagined in a million years that ‘12 Inches’ would grow so big,” Henkel said. “It’s known as one of the largest international juried shows in Nevada.”
To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-380-4532.