‘No more gun violence.”
“You are not alone. We are here and we understand. You will get through.”
“Praying for you through this difficult time.”
The messages — plaintive, defiant, encouraging, empathetic — appear on a poster sent to Southern Nevadans by, the poster says, “the Pulse family and all of Orlando” during the weeks following the Oct. 1 Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.
Now, what was intended simply as a show of support from survivors of one instance of gun violence to another — 49 people were killed and 53 others wounded in a shooting at Pulse, an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, in 2016 — has taken on a new role as part of the Hearts4Vegas Touring Exhibition.
The exhibition opened last week at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery, 1017 S. First St., Suite 190, in downtown Las Vegas. It’s made up of cards, letters, notes, drawings, banners, photos and artwork sent to Las Vegas after the Route 91 tragedy, in which 58 concertgoers were killed and hundreds more were injured.
Bobbie Ann Howell, program manager for Nevada Humanities, notes that some of the pieces on display were addressed simply to “Las Vegas City Hall” and that the exhibition features just a portion of the items that made their way here from around the world.
The messages mostly offer words of support, solidarity and healing. Howell says many people wrote thank-yous — to first responders, doctors, fire and police officers — as well as to Las Vegas for taking care of visitors in the aftermath of the shooting.
Some messages came from children — get-well cards which, in retrospect, were perfect for a community of hurting people.
“Las Vega (sic) is strong. Hope you are feeling better,” reads one, the misspelling only adding to the message’s charm.
“Thank you for making a difference. We appreciate you,” reads another card with a drawing of a police officer flanked by figures that appear to be Iron Man and a Minion.
At least one card, from “Angel,” hints at a cryptic subtext: “Las Vegas, you loved me and made me strong … so I’m sending the love back. Vegas Strong in Missouri.”
Then there’s the aerial photograph from KSON-FM San Diego’s “John & Tammy in The Morning” depicting a giant peace sign formed by the staff of the country music station and a sister station, listeners and community members. John Flint and Tammy Lee say the photograph — taken on Oct. 13 and later delivered to Mayor Carolyn Goodman — grew out of a discussion with listeners.
“We have a lot of people in the San Diego area who were at the festival,” Lee says, among them, co-workers and listeners who had won tickets. “So we had ties in all kinds of different ways. We just wanted everyone to know we cared about them.”
Flint says participants included San Diegans who were at the festival, some of whom revealed at the photo session that “this was the first time they left the house since it happened, the first time they were in a crowd.”
The Hearts4Vegas Touring Exhibition will be at the downtown gallery through Oct. 5 and continue its tour of the city through August 2019.
More artwork, events
The Hearts4Vegas Touring Exhibition also includes a slide show of objects that have been left at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, a painting by artist Manuel Batista, message boards from Albuquerque, N.M., artwork from Gracie’s House of Las Vegas, and a commissioned piece by collage artist J.K. Russ.
A reception is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 7. Included will be a 7 p.m. discussion with the city of Las Vegas’ Public Art Program’s staff.
From 6-9 p.m. Sept. 24-25, the public is invited to participate in a hands-on workshop with Russ and artist and art therapist Sandra Schmidt.
All events will be at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery.