Welcome to fabulous Art Vegas

“Big Edge” 2009 - Nancy Rubins

We took a long weekend to visit Las Vegas for work and for play. I love Las Vegas enthusiastically and without irony. The strip is unapologetically crass and transactional, which makes it’s the most honest place in America.

Las Vegas seeks to sell you happiness. Sometimes it’s a bargain, sometimes it’s lavishly expensive. Las Vegas does not judge. Every desire is represented. This makes Las Vegas a good town for art.

A late 1990s Robert Rauschenberg. One of at least two in the Bellagio Hotel.

On our first full day, we woke early and I found us coffees and pastries. We wandered deep into the vast Bellagio conference center. We found her conference, kissed goodbye and I turned to walk back. Along the way I turned left instead of right and came across an enormous Robert Rauschenberg painting. This was one of his large transfer pieces from the late 1990s. The painting was behind glass to prevent accidents. I walked further and found a second, slightly smaller Rauschenberg painting behind concierge’s desk near front desk. This quiet painting was a big overshadowed by the massive Dale Chihuly piece on the ceiling.

Dale Chihuly’s ceiling over the lobby at the Bellagio

I made my wake back to our hotel through long hallways, wide enough for ample parallel parking, and across a covered, elevated walkway.

A giant sphere is assembled on the horizon

I love the in-between places in Las Vegas. The outlandish strip gives way to practical, concrete brutalism that is, at once, in tune with the desert and an affront to the landscape. None of this should be here.

Penn and Teller are always watching, waiting.

I wandered more and eventually found breakfast. Las Vegas never sleeps, but it doesn’t open till 10am. Afterwards, I wandered over to the Aria Hotel and found an installation by FriendsWithYou.

A small Instagram backdrop by a bench had a QR code printed on it. The QR code takes you to a web address hosting an AR model which I could view on my iPhone. The iOS viewer allows for you to scale the model, and take snapshots, leading to fun results.

It followed me home.

Leaving the Aria I came across a dazzling electronic, robotic Christmas tree.

Can you find my hand in the reflection?

This is “HOTO” - a 2008 sculpture made of polished metal and countless LED counters by Tatsuo Miyajima. According to the plaque, “hoto” translates to “treasure pagoda” which is a reference to a mythical, gigantic tower half as big as the earth and representing the importance of a single life.

This was my pattern for the weekend. Wake early, walk her to her conference, and wander around looking for wonders.

“Vegas” - 2009 by Jenny Holzer

(Don’t worry, we did normal Vegas stuff. too.)

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