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Las Vegas City Hall exhibit explores humanity’s future through science fiction show

Steve Horlock envisions a world where global warming has driven man further indoors and animals reclaim nature.

“Science Versus Fiction,” an art show in which artists interpret the possible outcomes of the future by using science and/or science fiction as an influence, is is set to be on display from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m Monday through Thursday through Sept. 22 at Las Vegas City Hall, 495 S. Main St.

The show draws upon a diverse selection of Las Vegas artists, each with a unique vision.

“I didn’t want to create a piece about how we’re all going to die,” Horlock said. “We adapt. In my vision, we create more indoor environments, but not bubble cities like you saw in ‘60s science fiction. More like a mall with connected buildings.”

In the foreground of his piece “Adaption,” a pair of coyotes snarl at each other while the rest of the pack looks on. The image stems from his fascination with hybrid animals that can adapt to the wild and urban environments.

Lisa Dittrich imagined a bleaker future, but not one without hope. The images are on three canvases attached together and visually bound with clunky organic shapes surrounding the rectangular spaces. The central panel pays homage to Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” while the upper and lower panels show how the stratified classes dealt with a catastrophic event that ended society as we know it.

On the lower panel, the upper class has fled into underground bunkers, hoping to live in luxury underground on stored food and technology. They didn’t realize they would have to contend with sunlight deprivation and disease in the cramped quarters. On the upper panel, the working class has survived and is eking out a life through desalination and desert farming.

“It’s an interesting show, and I found it challenging,” Dittrich said, “When I saw the other people’s work, I was in awe. It’s a beautiful venue, and the art is so well-thought-out.”

For Kim Johnson, the show gave her a chance to explore ideas that have been percolating in her for years and have gotten more intense in the last four.

“The ideas came from a dream I’ve had many times and which I’ve had a lot more recently,” Johnson said. “It has to do with hybridization with an alien life form.”

In her dream, an alien presence appears in a cloud and draws life into it. A hybrid is built and returns to earth, removing the need for communication and making the planet of one mind.

“It’s called ‘Prelude to the Harvest,’ ” Johnson said. “It’s the time right before all of life is raised up to merge with the other life form.”

The work is an extension of a recent series she has been calling “Earth Cakes,” which consists of tall, narrow pieces that seem to represent layers of something. For this show, she thinks of the work as more of a core sample.

Of all the artists who contributed to the show, Daniel Miller has what is likely the deepest science fiction pedigree.

“Most of my professional career, I’ve been a large-scale sculptor for films, theme parks and casinos,” Miller said. “I later became a digital artist, working on matte painting and concept art for video games.”

Locally his work can be seen in Caesers Palace, Mandalay Bay and other casinos. His concept art has shaped video games, including the game based in the “Star Wars” universe, “Empire at War,” and in film, his work has been used in films such as “True Lies,” “The Chronicles of Riddick” and “Stargate,” constructing the iconic and titular stargates.

“I’m honored to be invited,” Miller said. “In my piece, I’m imaging the scenario of one particular climate change model.”

Miller is working from the model of climate change melting the polar ice caps, flooding the planet, and then changing the currents and salinity of the oceans, resulting in another ice age and the water being locked up in the ice caps again.

His work features a rusting aircraft carrier in the middle of a desert. A mysterious figure fills the foreground, and another figure can be seen in the reflection of the main figure’s goggles.

“The piece I did has been looming in my head for a long time,” Miller said. “I like to invite the viewer to answer their own questions about what might be presented there. Is the figure in the reflection someone coming, or is it someone going? Is it a threat or a positive thing?”

Visit lasvegasnevada.gov or call 702-229-6511.

To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

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