If I say “Las Vegas,” what words pop into your head first? I’ll bet you $5 (not really) that you’re thinking about drinking, gambling, and carousing—and not fine arts. And no, dancing (wink, wink) is not a fine art. While Las Vegas’ fine art scene isn’t the city’s top attraction, it’s still worth checking out—particularly because it doesn’t cost you as much as playing the slots.
Art at Bellagio
A must-see for many art enthusiasts visiting Las Vegas is The Bellagio. Art and architecture in a harmonious blend permeate the entire hotel, from its lobbies to its courtyards to its art décor inspired rooms. One of the most striking art pieces in the Bellagio is Dale Chihuly’s glass chandelier, “Fiori di Como.” This piece consists of some 2,000 hand-blown glass blossoms in a burst of colour, and it graces the magnificent Bellagio lobby. Sculptures by Richard MacDonald also grace the “O” Theatre Lobby, also located in The Bellagio. The piece de resistance is The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, considered one of the premier art spaces on The Strip. It is open from 10am to 6pm from Sundays to Thursdays, and from 10am to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Finally, the nightly shows at the Fountains of Bellagio are a sensory treat for anyone, regardless of age or interest in the arts.
Art at CityCenter
Another large collection of art and larger-than-life sculptures can be enjoyed at CityCenter, Las Vegas. CityCenter is a collection of spaces, namely the Aria Resort and Vdara Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental, the Harmon Hotel, Veer Towers and Crystals, a retail and entertainment complex. Impressive public art is scattered throughout this massive 67-acre complex. The popular outdoor installations that cannot be missed are “The Big Edge by Nancy Rubins” (2009) and the “Reclining Connected Forms” by Henry Moore (1969-1974), located near the Aria Resort. There’s plenty of artwork in the hotel lobbies, including Tony Cragg’s “Bolt, Bent of Mind” (2008) in Aria’s self-park lobby, or Peter Wegner’s “Day for Night, Night for Day” 2009 installation in Vdara’s lobby. For something illuminating, check out Jenny Holzer’s light installation “Vegas,” or Richard Long’s “Circle of Life and Death” (2009) in Veer Towers’ lobby, which is best viewed from the outside on the pedestrian walkway.
Art on the streets
Las Vegas’ public art scene has also been given a boost by the City of Las Vegas Art Commission. You’ll get to see plenty of art just by looking around at ACE transit shelters, in hotel lobbies, and on the streets. For instance, the artwork of Las Vegas-based artist Dennis Angel entitled “Desert Transplants” can be seen along the mile-long gallery of the Las Vegas Boulevard, aptly named The Aerial Gallery. Public exhibitions of The Aerial Gallery stretch from the Arts District to City Hall on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Another public art project to watch out for are the ACE transit shelters at seven locations, where eight Las Vegas artists (Catherine Borg, Evan Dent, Stephen Hendee, Danielle Kelly, Sean Russell, Eric Pawloski, Brian Porray and Todd Von Bastiaans) have been commissioned to create artwork about Las Vegas’ history and iconography.
Other places to view artwork include the Las Vegas Art Museum (at the Sahara West Library), which features contemporary art by both international and local artists, and the Contemporary Arts Center (at 107 East Charleston Boulevard Suite 120).