Las Vegas CityLife

above: Backdraft by A.D. Cook

Las Vegas CityLife

Scene From A Mall

Local art gets a boost with the opening of the Southern Nevada Center for the Arts
by Jarret Keene

DESPITE an ailing economy and a downtown development project seemingly incapable of maintaining any business, the Southern Nevada Center for the Arts (450 Fremont St.) enjoyed its grand opening Jan. 23-25 in Neonopolis’ old food court area on the second floor. The artists who have set up shop inside the SNCA are impressive and eager to create a kind of cultural momentum. They and the center’s staff should be congratulated for a cool weekend that involved art demonstrations (Nevada Clay Guild’s wheel demos), music (Gents of Swing), poetry (Keith Brantley), and dance (Argentine tango).

Anyone who’s paid attention this paper’s arts coverage will recognize many of the artists’ names: Leslie Rowland, Daniel Pearson, Gina Quaranto, Michael Griesgraber — just to name a handful who’ve participated in solo and group exhibits as part of the monthly First Friday event. Although Neonopolis doesn’t qualify as the Downtown Arts District, the talents involved brought the same level of goodwill and enthusiasm to the SNCA that they have to their efforts at more familiar galleries in the Arts Factory and Holsum Lofts.

Still, this is no glorified shopping mall. This is genuine art for discriminating collectors.

“The event was great, with plenty of positive people showing up,” says artist A.D. Cook, who specializes in work that highlights the beauty of the female form. “The kind of art I do doesn’t lend itself to walk-up, impulse buying. I build relationships with my clients and when you do these kinds of shows, your clients sometimes need to hang the painting on the wall for a few days before you make a sale. The center helps make this possible.”

As Cook points out, even in an economic downturn, art remains tangible. Anyone who’s purchased original art knows you get a lifetime return. Besides, what else can you spend a few thousand on and enjoy for the rest of your life?

“As artists, we tend to work in our caves, and now we’re benefiting from the energy that the art center allows us,” adds Cook. “There’s a lot of creative collaboration going on.”

Quaranto, whose work possesses a gothic edge with an emphasis on skeletons and spooky girls, helped move furniture and art items for her fellow artists. “I hope this takes off,” she says. “Vegas needs something like this.”

Organizers estimate more than 1,000 attendees visited during opening weekend, and vow to make the art center bigger and bolder.

The center shouldn’t be confused with the adjacent Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art, currently exhibiting Revealing Women Redux, featuring painter Susanne Forestieri and sculptor Roberta Baskin Shefrin through March 25, 2009. Info:

Southern Nevada Center for the Arts
Mon-Sat 10 am to 9 pm, Sun 10 am – 7 pm

450 Fremont St.
Admission Free


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