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Thursday, January 27, 2005

3rd Thursday Reports: From LVAC and CityLife

A week ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the first 3rd Thursday presentation, which was a collector's forum. It was a regular who's-who of local arts people, including writer Kelle Schillaci who posted her review of the night's speakers and the Rauschenberg exhibition. It was a good night with a lot of promise. So here's my report, complete with strange bits of text that the 'blogger' website insists on adding.

If a year ago a betting person had said that affluent Vegas collectors would be speaking to a standing room-only crowd in a large for-profit gallery full of Robert Rauschenberg paintings on Main Street, most would have said that the odds were against them. But the first monthly 3rd Thursday forum, organized by Godt-Cleary and Dust Gallery, continues to demonstrate the Arts District’s evolution. Unlike 1st Friday, which is an arts district-wide event, this evening was solely the production of the two galleries. Setting the high-societal tone was the Bentley Continental GT parked on the street, the Godt-Cleary doorman checking RSVPs, and the Collector's Guide to Working with Art Dealers on every seat in the gallery.

The estimated 100 attendees were a mix that included local intelligentsia, artists, art lovers, representatives of the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, The Las Vegas Art Museum, the Contemporary Arts Collective Las Vegas, and at least one liberal agitator (more on him later). The forum itself was heavy with casino execs, in part because scheduled speakers Lee Cagley (landscape architect) and Steven Molasky (realty and mortgage) were unable to attend.

The speakers were Executive V. P. of Design for Wynn Design and Development Roger Thomas, Mandalay Resort Group President and CFO Glenn Schaeffer, MGM-Mirage President and CFO Jim Murren, Patrick Duffy of Rhodes Homes, and Wally Goodman, who is just fabulously well off.

After Naomi Arin of Dust Gallery introduced the panelists, the session started with Roger Thomas. As a life-long resident of Vegas, he first touched upon the fact that Vegas had never been a city to collect in, and saw “collecting as an excuse for traveling.” He was also the first of several of the collectors to talk of the phases of collecting that he went through, with his latest collection being the result of a previous purge of most of his prior acquisitions. Also, he touched upon an immediate attraction to a piece followed by his educating himself on context, history, and exploration of that work’s style or aesthetic.

Glenn Schaeffer spoke next and noted that Godt-Cleary “was doing much better in a Downtown location.” It’s true that it would have been hard to imagine the night’s event and the same crowd attending at the former Mandalay Bay location. He touched upon the art market as one marked with inefficiencies that benefited the dedicated collector/investor.

Continuing the theme of art as investment, Jim Murren spoke of his purchases with an eye towards investment as well as personal appreciation. He added to his collecting remarks by detailing his arts background before entering into business, of being a painter and an art history major while attending college.

Patrick Duffy (not of Dallas fame) and Walter Goodman ended the introductions. Patrick detailed his life prior to meeting Walter, and noted his lack of exposure to art with a story of a 1991 visit of theirs to the Frick in NYC as his first time in a museum. But he nurtured his late blooming appreciation for art, saying, “collecting to me is so very much a part of every breath I take.” Acquiring works turned into an appreciation for those gallery staff that help aid in collecting, adding that these gallerists were critical in finding works that weren’t just liked, but loved. “Acquire through a gallerist, an auction house; if you attempt to do the art of the deal, you’ve missed the point.”

Walter Goodman was the last to speak and would have been served best by a microphone. His engaging and humorous anecdotes made up for his lack of volume. He spoke of his passion for collection (which he has been doing since age 14) and was adamant about collecting for love, not investment. His observation that when buying for name only, “all that means is that you have a Reubens – well, screw that!” was a crowd favorite.

At the end, Michele Quinn directed the conversations between the individual collectors. It looked as though the crowd would have liked to have participated more, but a tangential tone was set almost immediately by an audience participant. A gent with an axe to grind with the casino execs brought up his unhappiness with their lack of architectural preservation, which had nothing to do with the entire night’s presentation. Michele then redirected the conversation on-topic until its end.

The promise of nights like this is that affluent, passionate collectors will build the local arts community and aid in its success. That was a common thread with Wally Goodman and Patrick Duffy, who commented on their belief that collecting needs to engage with local artists and galleries. The evening’s event was an encouraging one that shows that there are locals who have not only the interest to support the Vegas arts community, but the means and desire to get results.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at


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