enculturating las vegas into the next millennium... art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater, history, nature and everything else that enriches the lives of those who live and visit southern nevada... Since 2003...

Friday, November 28, 2003

KVBC Announces Free Entrance to Closed Museum

Their Thanksgiving Day news broadcast gave the Guggenheim Hermitage some good publicity, but unfortunately KVBC showed footage of the long-closed Guggenheim Las Vegas. Great footage of vintage motorcycles was shown along with the announcement of free admission to the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum. The current and only exhibition is “A Century of Painting: From Renoir to Rothko.”

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Vegas Journalism Blogs, and More

Enter "Vegas Blog" into Google and you mainly get moronic posts about the "total blast we had in Vegas." Thankfully, Richard Abowitz from the Las Vegas Weekly wrote a fine article about the online musings of Vegas media writers. Joshua Ellis, Gregory Crosby, Geoff Carter, Mike Zigler, Rick Henderson, and Jarret Keene are all profiled. The article critiques the quality of writing, ranging from witty and accessible (Geoff Carter) to the self-absorbed and self-referential (Joshua Ellis). In addition to the writing, Mr. Carter’s site includes some great photography. If you wish to read some of Ellis’s better prose, Google has archived his exploration of the tunnels under Vegas.

Now for something different. Enter "Vegas Blog Stripper" and Google leads you to this. The trials and travails of this Vegas-based stripper are too short and too infrequent to warrant visiting often. But the changes in drug use from the first entry to the last make this worth reading, so start from the bottom of the blog and treat it as a short story.

Outside of the Vegas Valley, blogs bloom as well. While catering to locals, Ely and Elko both have resident bloggers. In addition to local goings on, the Elko site has news pertaining to Vegas. From the June 15th entry...

"Yessirree, buddy, there are lots of cool things in Elko. But the coolest thing about Elko County is that everyone wants our water, especially Las Vegas! Now that wouldn't be so bad except that Las Vegas is probably not aware that we have a unique little tradition going on around here with our mines. It's called 'dewatering and here's a little bit of info about it:

Humboldt River Basin Assessment

and another site telling about dewatering is:

Dewatering at the Mines in the Great Basin"

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

New Gallery in Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay has a sky mall, in the bridge that connects Mandalay Bay and the Luxor. In addition to Nike Golf, Urban Outfitters, and Samantha Chang, the mall has a contemporary arts gallery. From Mandalay Bay's press release (PDF File),

"Godt-Cleary Gallery: Godt-Cleary aims to create a new and dynamic gallery environment that promotes both contemporary fine art limited editions as well as functional design objects by museum-quality contemporary artists (1960 through today)."

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Guggenheim Global Expansion Hits Another Snag: This Time Taiwan

The museum version of Wal-Mart is finding it hard to find local support in the Taiwanese city of Taichung, site of a new proposed Guggenheim. Some local academics are concerned that the museum will impose a Western aesthetic. From the article, "Wu Chin-tao, an assistant professor in fine arts from Nanhua University, said that the museum was not about culture but rather about politics. She described the museum as a 'political animal.' Wu said that Taiwan had long been a cultural colony and this time the country was once again accepting the US export of elitist culture."

Opponents of the museum also cited the reported decline in attendance at the Guggenheim Bilbao and continuing staff layoffs in NYC as points of concern.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Art Vegas Fest: M.I.A? D.I.A?

So, it seems there was this swell meeting in Chicago where a collection of people came together to give Vegas a bitchen’ art fest. Hundreds of dealers, loads of art, and to be held at the super groovy Palms. Plans were made, a website designed, and a party was held to celebrate the progress made. But then fate handed them a rotten hand, or a tainted fish appetizer. Death makes an appearance and tells all the fine and fabulous people that they're all dead. The guests are quite irate and ask how they all died at the same time. And Death says...

“The salmon mousse.”

Well, at least in my imagination. It’s the only explanation that I can come up with for this website.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

From Slacker to Nuclear Scientist to DJ Extraordinaire in Three Easy Clicks

So, let's say that you’re a Vegas Valley slacker unwilling to leave your house, but you want a college education. But UNLV, CCSN, and Nevada State either don’t meet your criteria for higher education, or you're too lazy to leave your damn house. Rejoice, the internet has provided you with an option.

MIT's OpenCourseWare project now provides anyone with an internet connection downloadable “problem sets,” PDF files, and online lectures on subjects like Intermediate Chemical Experimentation, Nuclear Systems Design, and Electron Microprobe Analysis. Please remember that when taking Electron Microprobe Analysis, you need to be running Microsoft Microprobe 98 or higher. But you know that real money is in... running a set of turntables. Physics be damned, chicks dig a DJ.

That’s where the Berklee Music School saves the day. Like MIT, the Berklee Shares program has educational digital downloads, lesson plans, music, and videos. Unlike MIT, it offers practical classes like Basic Hard Rock Keyboard, Afro Cuban Drum Rhythm, and Basic Scratching for DJ's. Sweet!

So, take heart. Whether your ambitions be scientific or down-beat jungle house lounge, there’s a college out there looking to make you better. And the price tag couldn’t be cheaper.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Last Week, A Busy One...

This last week was a busy one for the arts and humanities in Vegas.

On Tuesday the 12th, the Nevada Arts Advocates presented an arts awareness luncheon, titled "Las Vegas Performing Arts Center, How a Dream Becomes a Reality." Don Snyder, president of Boyd Gaming and chairman of the Las Vegas Performing Arts Foundation, discussed the future of the arts center at this $25 a plate luncheon.

Wednesday night had the Nevada Arts Council having a public hearing at the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society.

Friday, the Donna Beam Gallery opened a beauty of a show. The "Not Teapots, Ceramic Sculpture" show was curated by UNLV's own Mark Burns. This is a great show, and should not be missed.

On Saturday afternoon, the Circle Park on Maryland reopened after being closed for renovation and landscaping. The $1.7 million makeover of this 3-acre park was made possible by funding from both the City of Las Vegas and Clark County. Improvements included contributions from select local artists.

And on Saturday night, the B.U.S.E. Club had its "Night of a 1000 Stars" to benefit the construction of shelters for troubled Nevada teenage mothers. The B.U.S.E. Club is a social networking group, and host a mixer every Tuesday at the Stirling Club in Turnberry Place. This coming Tuesday they will also be hosting a presentation by Dust Gallery owners Jerry Misko and Naomi Arin. And in December they will be having Cindy Funkhouser, of Whirlygig Inc., speaking on "Increased Activity in Downtown Las Vegas and Arts and Culture Community." See the B.U.S.E. activities calendar for more info.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Art is Dead: or A Corpse is a Corpse, of Course, of Course

The New York Times had an interesting article addressing the idea of "shocking" art. The British Press have been having a field day, discussing the Chapman Brothers, the latest enfant terribles of the English art scene. Their latest entry to the 2003 Turner Prize evokes just such a reaction.

From the Times article, "Around the gallery hang 80 reproductions of etchings from Goya's 'Disasters of War' series, with clown faces superimposed over the original heads. In the middle are two painted bronze sculptures. One, 'Death,' includes what looks like a couple of inflatable sex toys performing unprintable acts, complete with a vibrator. The other, 'Sex,' is a decomposed human corpse and other animal parts hanging from a tree, with your basic assortment of maggots and 'flies, spiders, lizards, mice, rats, snails, worms and centipedes...'"

Their Goya work involves actual works by the artist himself. The Brothers Jake and Dinos bought a complete set of Goya's "Disasters of War." They then went about systematically defacing or "rectifying" the entire collection, drawing clown or puppy faces over every head of every dead victim.

But when is a dead body not art? When it's just a body mistaken as an installation.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Too Much Time On My Hands: Vegas and the Internet

The following is a gratuitous entry in questionable taste.

First, the Las Vegas Monorail. Whatever I could say, Matt Groening and friends have already said it better.

Secondly, while the Mirage Hotel has never released its in-house video of what happened with Roy and the tiger, a dramatic, slightly slow loading, digitally enhanced, pretend re-enactment has surfaced (broken link). Who next, Christopher Robin???

I promise an articulate and well-researched article in the near future as penance for this... mainly for the tiger.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Sincity Punks/United Punk: Boston Bar and Grill Stiffs Band

The Sincity Punks/United Punk website claims that the owner of the Boston Bar & Grill encouraged and condoned the illegal sale of wristbands outside the bar.

From the November 5th entry, "On November 1, 2003, the promoters of the Hamsa Lila show at The Boston Bar & Grill caught the owner, Rob Bassett, selling unauthorized wristbands outside his venue. The promoters had agreed upon a rental fee for the venue and the venue would take the bar profits and the promoter would control the door. The promoter, Molly Ruland, witnessed a security guard selling wristbands to gain entrance to the club for a reduced fee than what was being charged at the door."

This was in violation of the agreement with Promoter Molly Ruland of One Love Entertainment and the band. In addition to this, another claim of illegal wristband sales taking place at a Walgreens was made as well.

This event has led to a lawsuit against Rob Bassett and much bad blood between him and promoter Molly Ruland.

" ...Rob Bassett has managed to take away a lot of hard work and money from the rightful owners. Something to think about before you either visit or promote at The Boston Bar & Grill."

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Carson City Company to NASA: Pay Your Parking Bill!

On February 12, 2001, NASA landed the Shoemaker Spacecraft on the Eros Asteroid. Apparently, it took someone’s parking spot, parking spot #29 as a matter of fact. The Orbital Development Company of Carson City, Nevada has claimed the Eros Asteroid as its own property and has billed NASA $20 for the storage fee. But, being a reasonable company, once paid the next bill would not come due until 2101. But, being unreasonable, NASA declined to pay. The State Department ruled on behalf of NASA, based on Article 2 of the 1967 "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies." Now, that’s a treaty.

Logically, in November of 2003, Orbital Development started litigation to not only be paid in full, but be recognized as the legal owner of said asteroid, the reason being that Orbital Development is a private venture and not a state/country and is exempt from the treaty. The company values Eros at $10 trillion, and seeks damages, as well as storage fees.

The state of Nevada would do well to support this litigation. Also, may I suggest legislation to tax any space-based property owned by companies based in the state?

1.2% of $10 trillion, maybe?

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Thom Krens on the Future of the Guggenheim in Vegas

The Guggenheim Hermitage Museum opened its new show, "From Renoir to Rothko," on Nov 7th. To coincide with the opening, KNPR's Flo Rogers interviewed Thom Krens, Director of the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation. He elaborated on the failure of the GLV and his hopes for the remaining museum.

His interview offers an interesting contrast to the first KNPR reports about the museum arrival. Both are available, "Guggenheim Museum Preview" from September 24, 2001, and "Guggenheim Impact" from October 1, 2003.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Las Vegas Life on the Guggenheim Las Vegas: Bad Building!

The November 2003 issue of Las Vegas Life magazine has an article (not online) about the demise of the Guggenheim Las Vegas. While the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum still remains, the Rem Koolhaas-designed "Big Box" closed 15 months after its September 2001 opening. The article attributes the space’s lack of longevity to its aesthetic failure to engage viewers. The main critique focused on the building's barebones look, with exposed beams, raw concrete, and little decorative features to capture the eye. The article describes nicely how the interior of the building's modern minimalism failed to be the visual attraction that a Vegas museum needed to be. Tucked within the depths of the Venetian, the museum lacked an exterior facade with the exception of a 7-story door only visible while walking in from the parking garage.

But the article neglects the more significant factors that doomed the museum. The partnership of a non-profit museum with ambitions of corporate-like expansion and a casino attempting to build cultural cache was one built on shaky ground. The opening of the museums coincided with the worst act of terrorism in the history of the country, and in both NYC and Las Vegas that had huge financial impact. New York never saw Vegas locals as a market and neglected to allocate advertising dollars to get their attention. With a majority of Las Vegas tourists arriving via plane, the severe decrease in air travel to the city meant that the Las Vegas-based Guggenheims lost any hope of attendance momentum. The hoped-for attendance was estimated at approximately 4,000 people per day, an exceptionally high and ambitious number. But those numbers never materialized, and daily attendance averaged between 900 to 1,200. The museum never generated the revenue that it expected and needed. The stressed relationship between museum and casino, thus irreparably damaged, meant the days of the Guggenheim Las Vegas were numbered. The Guggenheim Hermitage, while affected by the fallout, was protected because its construction was solely funded by the New York museum. More importantly, it rents its location, like most of the other shops and cafes in the Venetian. The financial and funding entanglements between the Venetian and Guggenheim put into place meant the casino could exercise control over the Big Box's destiny in a different manner.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Wynn Hits Big Auctioning off "Record Breaking" Modigliani

The New York Times reports that our Mr. Wynn continues to be an art buyer and now seller to contend with. The November 5th article states, "...Last night Mr. Wynn, the Las Vegas casino owner, seemed to hit the jackpot as the biggest seller at Christie's when his Modigliani nude brought $26.8 million, a record for the artist at auction. A passionate collector, Mr. Wynn wasn't the only seller whose offerings set an auction record at Christie's sale of Impressionist and modern art. The evening, the first in two weeks of back-to-back auctions, heralded a return to confidence among both buyers and sellers. It also set records for two other modern masters, Léger and Moore."

Strangely enough, the Times says that the $26.8 million makes this the most ever paid for a Modigliani, but artnews.com claims that Wynn paid $35 million for the work that he just sold at auction, making that a near $10 million loss on the art market.


posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Vegas Film Fans: More Options for Indie and Home Grown Films to be Seen

The only art theater that Las Vegas has is a fictional one in which "CSI: Las Vegas" staged a murder. While the city has relatively few commercial theaters in which to see independently-produced films, a collection of coffee shops, record stores, cafes, and county libraries are giving Vegas film fans a surprising amount of options for seeing unusual films.

The Super8punk Production Group puts on a wide variety of weekly screenings. On Mondays, "Brew and View" at the New York Cafe on Paradise Road, "Chez Bippy Presents...B-Movie Night" on Thursday at Cafe Roma on Maryland, and Friday nights has "Revolutionary Action Program Movie Night" at Balcony Lights on Maryland. The group also is looking to expand its offerings, with its inclusion in the Athens, GA-originated Flicker film group. Flicker offers film events in Austin, New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, and now, potentially, Vegas. From the Super8Punks mailing list, October 29...

"I talked to the Las Vegas Mercury and told them about how we are starting a Las Vegas Chapter of Flicker, they said we can have our own theater at the Mercury Film Festival in May of 2004 to show our films. We have until February to submit our work... "

The Clark County Library also provides an alternative source of films and themed screenings, all posted on their events calendar. Previous programs have included "The Collective... A Series of Films by Spike Lee," "W.O.W. (World of the Women) Cinema," and "Switch Hitters Film Series." November's offerings include Evil Dead Trap (1988), Freeze Me (2000), and Visitor Q (2000) from the Japanese Shockers! Film Series, as well as other movies. The calendar includes all screening times and venue locations.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

Asexual Radio Reproduction: KNPR Splits into News and Classical Music Stations

For those who were sick of their classical music being interrupted with news or vice versa, KNPR heard the pleas and created two new stations: News 88.9 KNPR and Classical 89.7 KCNV. For news junkies (like myself, Ed) and classical fans, their needs will undoubtedly be fed. But will the stations continue to only cater to their rarified audiences, or will they be able to attract additional listeners?

One thing that can be said is that the news station will, amongst other things, aid in reinforcing the beliefs of anti-war advocates. The Program on International Policy Attitudes released their report (PDF file) "MISPERCEPTIONS, THE MEDIA AND THE IRAQ WAR," and, in PICA's press release (PDF file), stated, "Study Finds Widespread Misperceptions on Iraq... Highly Related to Support for War... Misperceptions Vary Widely Depending on News Source... Fox Viewers More Likely to Misperceive, PBS-NPR Less Likely." Using the potentially loaded term "misconceptions," it goes about showing with anecdotal evidence (and graphs!) that the source of news does more to shape opinion, and that, "While it would seem that misperceptions are derived from a failure to pay attention to the news, in fact, overall, those who pay greater attention to the news are no less likely to have misperceptions."

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

A Museum to Outlast All Others in Vegas?

Does the Atomic Testing Museum's exposure to radiation give it mutant-like powers to survive in a city where museums struggle to stay open and thrive? Even if the radiation doesn't help, a museum that benefits from support from the defense industry does have an advantage that other museums don't have.

The Museum is part of the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, which resides in the Frank H. Rogers Science & Technology Building off of E. Flamingo. The NTSHF was founded in 1998 to preserve the history of the Nevada Test Site. The mission of the NTSHF is to "... preserve and foster public accessibility to the history associated with the NTS and the nation's nuclear weapons testing program. The Foundation promotes and supports cultural, educational and scientific programming to encourage the development and public exchange of views regarding the NTS and its impact on the nation."

The foundation and museum benefits from defense industry patronage, with Bechtel Foundation donating $300,000 to the Atomic Testing Museum in August of 2003.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at