Photography exhibit explores mindset of late Las Vegas Review-Journal editor

If his photography left any clues that he was considering suicide, they were so subtle that no one picked up on them.

Left of Center Gallery, 2207 W. Gowan Road in North Las Vegas, is showing “road to zzyzx ,” an exhibit of the photography of the late Warren Wesley Bates. Bates was an assistant city editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, sister paper to View. Bates died on April 23 , 2010. He was 49.

The free exhibit runs through June 4 and includes letters written by his family and co-workers, who were left to wonder at the struggles that led him to take his own life. “I would have been your touchstone … you could have leaned on me,” one reads.

Gallery director Marylou Evans plans to give a gallery talk at noon Saturday focusing on the exhibit. The event is free and open to the public.

“As a body of work, it’s very lonely,” Evans said of the exhibit. “You see time-lapse images, a sign with a blurred train, like life is passing by … Obviously, he was a deep thinker.”

Bates shared a love of photography with his younger sister, Susana Bates, who lives in San Francisco. She is a professional photographer and chose the photos for the exhibit.

While the nine-year age gap kept her from connecting with him when she was younger, being miles apart as adults didn’t stop them from cultivating a bond later in life. Even so, she said she did not see hints of looming suicide in his work.

“I see loneliness in the photographs, not just stark loneliness, though he had that side to him,” Susana Bates said. “He was not a loner per se, but he was not afraid to be alone.”

Warren Bates was born in San Jose, Calif. , in 1961. In 1985 he moved to Las Vegas, where he was hired by the Review-Journal as a general assignment reporter.

Lindsey Losnedahl worked with Bates for 14 years. She described him as reserved but approachable and someone with a great sense of humor. His photography, she said, showed his respect of the desert and forgotten things and abandoned places, but she never thought his works spoke to his state of mind.

“In light of his actions … you can’t help but wonder if there are parallels,” she said.

Ralph Fountain, a Review-Journal photojournalist, recalled a happier time — being sent on assignment with Bates out to the desert. They took Bates’ truck, which was never parked near other vehicles for fear of door dings. They got stuck in soft sand, and nothing they tried — branches for traction, gently working the truck backward and forward — worked. Nearly half an hour later, they were out of options.

“He was babying the truck, so I said, ‘Let me try,’ ” Fountain said. “I revved it up real good, popped the clutch, and we fishtailed out of there. I kept it floored until we were out of the sand patch. Poor Warren, he was wincing, but he didn’t say anything.”

Another photographer expressed admiration for Bates’ patience for the right shot. The Ansel Adams -type of photos Bates captured required setting up with a tripod, using a flash to capture a moving object, such as a train, and then a “bulb” setting, where the aperture is open for as long as the photographer wants.

Bates used exposures as long as 25 minutes for the shots in the exhibit. The open aperture results in streaks of car lights and star trails. Setting up a shot and waiting for the right lighting conditions could take hours. The nearly two dozen photos on display use the vast sky, the barren desert and the ruins of places now inhabited by only tumbleweeds and ghosts.

“It’s powerful,” said Vicki Richardson, the gallery’s executive director. “The letters really show how something like this (suicide) a ffects the people you left behind. There are so many unanswered questions.”

Susana Bates said her hope is “road to zzyzx” brings awareness to suicide prevention. From her conversations with her brother before he took his life, she said she knew he was struggling, but he assured her he was seeking help.

“I didn’t know how bad it was,” she said. “This will be with me the rest of my life … that I didn’t see it.”

The gallery is open noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 647-7378 or visit

Contact Summerlin and Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 387-2949.

Lights FC coach Eric Wynalda lost his home in California wildfire
Eric Wynalda, coach of the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team, talks about losing his home in the deadly California wildfires during an interview in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 17, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Women face issues from Essure birth control implants
DeVonna "Kat" Normand said she had complications from the Essure birth control implants. Normand uses her Sin City Heat show at 22.3 TakeOver Vegas Radio internet radio station in Las Vegas as a platform to raise awareness about Essure and connect with other women who have used the device. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Truancy and Clark County schools
Tony Stark, one of 23 attendance officers with the Clark County School District, have a tall order tracking down students who aren't in school.
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like