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...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tom Pfannerstill @ Trifecta Gallery

Marty does it again with another awesome and fabulous show at her fantastical gallery Trifecta. I will tell you this, Tom Pfannerstill is one of those artists that can take a rudimentary object that we mortals would take for granted and create a work of art out of it. His absolute attention to detail is remarkable and makes you wonder what goes through his mind as he creates these objects. When you gaze upon his work you may look perplexed but I highly recommend that you ask Marty to really show you what this work is all about. I guarantee you will be blown out of your mind. Don't forget to make Trifecta a must see stop this week as you traverse Preview Thursday or First Friday. 



June 3 - 25, 2010 "FROM THE STREET" 
Take second look when you visit us preview this Thursday June 3rd 5 - 9 pm...

Tom Pfannerstill's "From the Street" paintings are all hand carved wood and hand painted.
No paper, no metal, no plastic, no plaster.  They just look like what you see, but it's not.
We assure you its only wood and paint.  26 new pieces since his 2007 show with us.

Then take one last look at TRIFECTA in the small space.  We move to the front of the
building in our brand new large gallery after First Friday.
The Arts Factory Bar + Bistro is in full swing and open for Dinner 5 nights a week- including
this Thursday and Friday Night


Las Vegas Weekly

Best Gallery in the 2010  
"Best of Las Vegas" award!

Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Travelling America's Outback...

This past Saturday was another day filled with adventure as my friend Ari and I traversed the high desert. For me it was just another routine trip to some of my favorite haunts. For Ari on the other hand it was a memorable experience of new and exciting places he had never been too. The conversation between my good friend and I was a mix of history and lore that I wish I would have tape recorded. But in either case we both had a blast traveling over 300 miles in the back country of the Mojave Desert.

Originally this trip was supposed to be a quick jaunt to the Goldwell Open Air Museum located about 120 miles north of Las Vegas, just outside of Beatty Nevada. We were going to meet and talk to artist Yulia Pinkusevich who was exhibiting her latest body of work. But as things happen in my life sometimes I like to take the long road and explore. I gave Ari a few suggestions as how to get to Goldwell and in the end we settled with the long way right smack through the Amargosa, Death Valley and its amazing environs.

China Ranch Date Farm
The Amargosa Valley of Nevada and California is one of the most beautiful places I have ever explored. In addition the history and geology of the area is extremely important for understanding the establishment of trade routes between New Mexico and Southern California. The area with its abundant water sources and rich geological features made it an oasis for the Native Americans that have lived in area for almost 10,000 years and of course explorers that established the Old Spanish Trail in the 19th Century. Reaching the area is not difficult and the roads are decent enough for any car. We headed South on the I-15 to the 160 or Blue Diamond Road through the Spring Mountain Pass, before reaching Pahrump we made an immediate left onto the Old Spanish Trail Highway or Tecopa Road.

Information Kiosk at the
China Ranch Date Farm
Crossing the border into California a few miles past Cathedral Canyon and heading Southwest through a few "hair-raising" hairpin turns you finally reach Tecopa. But before going through Tecopa itself I made a left turn at the sign marking the road to the China Ranch Date Farm. After driving for about a mile the paved road ends and a small sign that says "TIPIS" points us to the right. The ranch is located in a hidden canyon along a well grated dirt road; so forget about getting your car washed before you take this trip. The date farm is a must see for anyone travelling the area and in my honest opinion it is worth making it a destination and spending the day or weekend there. The history of the area is rich with archeology and legend. The ranch itself was established by a Chinese man named Ah Foo, hence the ranches name. The ranch has several attractions but it is best known for its famous date palms that are grown throughout the area. Several varieties of tantalizing dates can be purchased at the ranch. The gift shop and bakery serve up everything from date shakes, date bread and date cookies all of which can be sampled. In addition the ranch has a nursery that you can purchase agave's, cacti, succulents and even your own date palm. A few years back I adopted a beautiful agave from the ranch which I appropriately named China. There are also abundant trails to take all around the area and even a Bed and Breakfast that you can stay at, replete with Tepees that you can rent. I was pleasantly surprised this time around to see a new feature that I had not seen a month before at the ranch. The Death Valley Chamber of Commerce established an information Kiosk with great information about the areas attractions, history, maps, trails, flora and fauna.

A Modest Museum at the
China Ranch Date Farm
In addition the ranch established in 2009 a new museum. The  "Modest Museum" as it is aptly called is tiny but well worth visiting. It is full of photographs and artifacts from the area. Though the museum probably is no larger than 80 sq ft it is well curated with good interpretative signage.

After spending far too little time at the ranch we headed back through the canyon and out to Tecopa. Though we did not stop in Tecopa it is worth mentioning that the area is very well known for its famous hot springs. The area is rich with geological features and minerals that make the hot springs quite famous for their healing properties. There are also marsh lands due to the flow of the Amargosa river that runs through the area.
Exhibit at the Modest Museum

As we headed out of Tecopa we drove through some amazing landscapes. The rock formations and subsequent colors demonstrate to the visitor the enormous geological forces that created and still affect that area. The Amargosa River that runs through the region begins just north of the town of Beatty in Nevada and flows South through the Amargosa Valley, China Ranch, Tecopa and ends at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Though the river is not the kind that we would normally think of, it is a river that for the most part runs underground and in some locations pops up creating lush oasis and marshes. It is in these areas that trees and lush vegetation can be found.

Shoshone, California
Just North of Tecopa we reach the hamlet of Shoshone a popular rest stop for people heading in or out of Death Valley. The little town is rich with history that dates back well over 150 years. Shoshone like its sister community Tecopa were important rest areas for miners who worked in the countless mines throughout the area especially the major borax works of Death Valley. It was also an important watering hole for the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad that connected many of the small mining communities throughout the region.

Mastodon exhibition at the
Shoshone Museum
Every time I have driven into Shoshone the town has been full of activity with tourists taking in the sights, eating at its famous restaurant the "Crowbar" or fueling up. It is also a great place to see motorcycles and is quite popular with hog loving bikers. The town also has quite a museum which is full of great little exhibits. The Shoshone Museum is housed in the towns original general store and gas station. The building was built in 1906 and subsequently moved a few times before being permanently located in Shoshone in 1920. The museum also houses a "Mammoth" wing which exhibits an amazing collection of paleontological artifacts from several digs that took place in the area in the 1980's. If you want to see real mastodon bones this is the place to see them. The museum also has a well stocked store with lots of books and literature. Anyone who knows me well knows I love my books; goodness knows I could not walk out of this museum without picking up a few books for the road.

Paco at the entrance to
Death Valley National Park
After leaving Shoshone we headed on the 127 North and made a right onto the 178 into Death Valley National Park. Oh before I forget make sure you have plenty of fuel in your car there are no services between Shoshone and Furnace Creek. This was the first time I headed into the park from the South. I usually enter the park from Beatty which is the most dramatic way into the park in terms of elevation change. In either case the beauty of the area is breathtaking and the rock formations definitely catch the eye. I will admit I found myself drifting off the road as I took in the beauty; not something I would recommend.

Ari enjoying the lowest elevation
in North America...
After reaching Badwater Basin the lowest elevation in North America and gazing at the little creatures that live in the brackish water at the site we headed towards Furnace Creek for lunch. The park was unusually cooler than expected at about 90 degrees and the sky was big and cloudless. As always Death Valley is a magical place; a place close to my heart and a place that never gets boring. It is a land of contrasts and extremes and it is a great place to get away from it all.

As we continued our trek towards Goldwell we bid farewell to the park but not before stopping at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center and Museum to get my National Park Passport stamped. From the visitors center we headed north to the 374 toward the Nevada entrance to Death Valley. State route 374 is the way I usually enter the park due to the extremely dramatic change in elevation and of course the view of the dry lake bed which is most stunning. After reaching the peak of the summit towards the parks exit I put the car in neutral and coasted all the way down to the Rhyolite Ghost Town turnoff.

Once we made the turn we headed to the Red Barn Art Center that houses the Goldwell Museums artist-in-residence program. As soon as we parked the car and stretched our legs we entered the barn and I was immediately welcomed by well known Las Vegas photographer and museum board member David Lancaster. After catching up with David for a few moments we met Yulia. Yulia Pikusevich was born in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov east of the capital of Kiev. She studied and received her BFA from Rutgers University in New Jersey and graduated with high honors. She completed major artistic endeavors in places like Buenos Aires, Argentina, Taos, New Mexico and New York City.

Into Singularity I become one
with the Nuclear Sun
When you first meet Yulia you are instantly drawn to her energy and enthusiasm. She pulls you in with a great smile and a passion for art. You can tell she has an immensely creative mind and her work is a prime example of what lurks behind her eyes. The minute I saw her charcoal drawings hanging on the walls of the barn I immediately new what I was looking at. Her drawings were perfect renditions of the famous images that were taken during above ground nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site. One of the images was featured in Michael Lights book 100 Suns. I knew the images all too well especially since I served as a trustee of the Atomic Testing Museum at a time when we featured an exhibition on how to photograph an atomic bomb. I asked Yulia why she chose such a subject matter? She explained to me that she got the idea from a man who worked at the Ensenada Cafe in Beatty who explained to her that this was the location of America's atomic testing program.

Paco, Yulia & Ari at the
Goldwell Open Air Museum
What is most intriguing is the fact that Yulia was 4 years old when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened. The worst nuclear accident in history that decimated her nation and displaced tens of thousands of people. She grew up just a few hundred miles east of Chernobyl. Amazingly enough she would come to Nevada and be inspired by the same energy that caused such destruction in her country. My conversation with Yulia was amazing because we came to find out that we are both closeted physics fanatics. We talked about everything from atomic particles and dark matter, to black holes and event horizons.

Looking back on the weekend I will say it was definitely worth every minute. Not just did we experience the Great American Outback full of History, Geology, Archaeology, Paleontology and adventure, but spent an enlightening time with an artist that we all should keep an eye on. I am certain this will not be the last time we hear of Yulia.


"The Great Temple of Fallen Civilization" Time Lapse from Yulia Pinkusevich on Vimeo.

For more information about the area please visit these sites...

The China Ranch Date Farm - http://www.chinaranch.com/
Tecopa Hot Springs - http://www.tecopahotsprings.org/ - http://www.tecopaca.com/HotSprings/
Amargosa Conservancy - http://www.amargosaconservancy.org/
Death Valley Chamber of Commerce - http://deathvalleychamber.com/
Death Valley National Park - http://www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm
Goldwell Open Air Museum - http://www.goldwellmuseum.org/
Amargosa Opera House - http://www.amargosa-opera-house.com/
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge - http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=84554

"Man's heart away from nature becomes hard." Standing Bear

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Contemporary Arts Center Presents "Reign of Glass" the art of Erin Stellmon...

Well I normally do not put an entire press release up but there is so much good information on this show I just had to put the whole document up. In addition I have to tell you I love Erin's work. I had the pleasure of working with her on a collaborate show that I curated for the Las Vegas News Bureau in 2007 at the Contemporary Arts Center. She was a pleasure to work with and this time around I had the honor to work with her again. Well over a month ago Erin asked me and dozens of other artists to create small pencil drawings for her upcoming show. I was so moved by the invitation that I created a small drawing of my memories growing up in Las Vegas. In either case I am looking forward to see what wonderful show Erin has come up with!


Collaborative piece entitled “If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now” featured in critical examination of MGM Mirage CityCenter June 3, 2010 to July 24, 2010.

The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is pleased to present Erin Stellmon’s Reign of Glass, the newest installation in the gallery’s rotating selection of exhibits beginning on June 3, 2010 through July 24, 2010.

“Erin Stellmon's work has always been particularly relevant within the context of Las Vegas, as it emerges directly from our culture of neon signage, suburban landscapes, the history of the atomic test-site, implosions of classic landmark casinos and her most recent explorations into CityCenter”, said Wendy Kveck, Director of the CAC.  “However, the iconography of her work carries not only historical weight, but also becomes symbolic of the broader psychic landscape, exploring American value systems and our notions of home, security and community.  The CAC found her proposal compelling and thought provoking with the potential to engage the community in a meaningful dialogue about these very important issues.”

“Putting together thoughts and ideas about CityCenter has been nothing if not daunting”, said Erin Stellmon about the creation of this exhibit.  “It is estimated to have cost over 11 billion dollars; as well as, 6 workers lives, but out of that overwhelming expense there is a want and a need for the outcome to be successful, similar to a long fought war.  If I criticize, will I be rallying against the people that have those new 12,000 jobs it created?  I certainly didn’t want that.  If everything seems too big to fail, could it also in turn be too small to not be seen?  Reign of Glass is about this process of breaking down these overwhelming issues of economy and greed into pieces for discussion on power and community.  Size does matter, and we are bigger than we think.”

What:   Reign of Glass, photo and mixed medium installation by artist Erin Stellmon.  Stellmon plans to address issues within the largest privately funded construction project in US history, the MGM Mirage CityCenter.  During the exhibition, Stellmon will feature an installation entitled “If you lived here you’d be home by now” which is a collective of drawings by artists and friends based on a personal memory of Las Vegas.  Sales of these drawings will be either donated to the CAC or returned to the artist based on their preference.

Who:    Erin Stellmon is a visual artist that employs multiple mediums in her work including collage, photography, drawing and sculpture.  Her featured work deals with themes of shelter and transition through images of decay, construction and technology.  She is interested in exploring how we are affected by the economic and emotional structures of comfort and the efforts we are willing to go through to feel that we have finally come, or are going, to that place called home.

Where: Contemporary Arts Center, 107 East Charleston Boulevard, Suite 120, Las Vegas, NV  89104

When:  June 3, 2010 to July 24, 2010

About the Contemporary Arts Center
The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is a non-profit 501(c)3 art organization dedicated to presenting new, high quality, visual, and performing art, while striving to build, educate, and sustain audiences for contemporary art. The CAC strives to provide a place where artists can learn about best practices, test new ideas in the public arena, and connect with fellow artists within and beyond our own community. 

The Contemporary Arts Center was voted winner “Best of Las Vegas 2010” Art Gallery, by the staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Contemporary Arts Center recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and is a recipient of the 30th annual Governor's Arts Award for Leadership in Organizations. The Nevada Arts Council and the Governor's Office presented these honors in March 2010 for outstanding and enduring contributions to Nevada through artistic achievement and service to the arts.

Gallery Hours and Admission: Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm and by appointment.  First Friday of each month 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Admission is free and donations to the Contemporary Arts Center are accepted.

General Information: The Contemporary Arts Center is located in The Arts Factory at 107 East Charleston Boulevard, Suite 120.  For information on the CAC and it’s programming, please visit the website www.lasvegascac.org or contact via telephone at 702-382-3886 or via e-mail at info@lasvegascac.org.

About the Artist
Erin Stellmon holds a BFA in fine art from Parsons School of Design in New York and an MFA in visual arts from University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Nevada and New York City and group exhibitions in California and Texas.  Awards include residency fellowships at Hall Farm Center for Arts and Education in 2001 and 2003 and UNLV's Outstanding Graduate Student Award 2007. Recent projects include 2009's Atomic Passage, a collaboration with artists Danielle Kelly, Adam Morrey and Aaron Sheppard for the City of Las Vegas Arts Commission to create the first public art project where artists' concepts were integrated into the engineering infrastructure of a Public Works streetscape; Clark County, Nevada's ZAP!, completed in 2006, in which selected artists painted utility boxes throughout the community; and Discover Las Vegas, completed in 2005, a mural painted at The Lied Discovery Children’s Museum as part of the City of 100 Murals project.
Her work has been reviewed in the national publication “Art in America.”

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she currently lives and works in Las Vegas, NV.  Stellmon is employed as the Media Coordinator for The Las Vegas Neon Museum and Boneyard.

Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 



Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Satin Saddle Jazz Orchestra this Saturday...

If you have nothing to do this Saturday afternoon well here is something to fill your afternoon void. There is nothing better then to spend some time with some awesome Jazz... Just click on the image for all the details.


Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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"Versus" new work by Leslie Rowland @ the Clark County Government Center


I have known Leslie for many years and Ill I can say is her work is HOT. Her work transcends time and space, it is provocative, controversial, sexy and on some occasions naughty. Leslie's latest body of work "Versus" will be featured this coming First Friday and throughout the month of June and July at the Clark County Government Center in Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas.  

Clark County Government Center is located at 500 S. Grand Central Parkway in Downtown. The opening event will be held on June 4, from 6 to 8pm.

For more information please visit this site http://www.lrowlandart.com/

"Versus-War versus peace, right versus left, religion versus science, and civilization versus nature; we live in a world at odds. "Versus" is a body of work presented on furniture and artillery shells, where these issues go head to head. The goal of "Versus" is to find some resolution, truth, and humor in topics that usually bring confrontation."
Divided we fall by Leslie Rowland
Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Someone Get This Hero the Best Medicine @ the Funk House...

This coming First Friday the Funkhouse in 18b presents the art of one of Las Vegas' great artists Shan Michael Evans. This will be Michaels first solo show in more than two years.

The show titled "Someone Get This Hero the Best Medicine" opens June 2 and runs through July 30. The show will be exhibited at the Funkhouse Antiques located at 1228 S. Casino Center Boulevard in 

Opening Reception: First Friday June 4, 6-10pm

For more information please visit this site http://www.thefunkhouselasvegas.com/
I am walking on water by Shan Michael Evans
Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Brett Wesley Gallery presents "The Burden of Ambition" June 3rd

One of Downtowns hottest gallery's will be presenting a new exhibition. The opening reception will be on Preview Thursday, June 3rd from 6 to 9pm. If you have not been to Brett Wesley Gallery make sure you come down and experience the future of 18b...

Brett Wesley Gallery
1112 South Casino Center Boulevard
702.433.4433
http://www.brettwesleygallery.com/

Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 





Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Off the Grid & into the Wilderness...

Rhyolite, Nevada
(Photo taken by Brian Paco Alvarez)
The time has come again where I will be exploring the hinterlands of the American Southwest to see what new and exciting places I can explore. Though I am actually going to the Goldwell Open Air Museum to muse with the artwork of Yulia Pinkusevich I am excited to be taking a newbie with me to explore several places prior to our adventure at the museum.

My good friend Ari and I will be doing a whirlwind tour of the China Ranch Date Farm, Tacopa, Shoshone and of course Death Valley. Ari has never been to any of these places so I am definitely looking forward to telling him a little bit about the history of the area and of course the fascinating history of BORAX, 20 Mule Teams, the Timbisha Shoshone, the railroad, the Pupfish, Lake Manly, Scotty's Castle, Furnace Creek, Dantes Peak, the Old Spanish Trail, Cathedral Canyon and so much more!

So stay tuned for the photo essay on my crazy adventures in the desert...

For more information about the great places we will be visiting please visit the sites below...

Goldwell Open Air Museum - http://www.goldwellmuseum.org/
China Ranch Date Farm - http://www.chinaranch.com/
Death Valley National Park - http://www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Third Friday in 18b is back...

Since January of this year Downtown galleries, shops and artists in 18b have invited the public to experience the neighborhood as they would on First Friday. The modest Third Friday event is a great time to avoid the massive crowds and enjoy art, music and various performances that are taking place around the area. As the arts expands throughout 18b and Downtown this is a great time to be part of the overwhelming change that is happening in our Radiant City.

Third Friday begins at 6pm and continues until 10pm. Come down and be part of something really cool. You can start your evening at the Arts Factory, walk down to PLACE Gallery, City of the World Gallery, the Gypsy Den, the Electronic Music Cafe and all points in between...


Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A new era of architecture and hope opens this Friday in Symphony Park...

Finally after years of anticipation the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health opens the Gehry Life Activity Center. For anyone who lives, works and plays downtown we have patiently watched in amazement as world renowned architect Frank Gehry's latest creation rose from the ashes of the historic rail yards in Downtown. This wonderful project is a game changer for Las Vegas not just in terms of architecture but also in hope for those who have lost loved ones to Alzheimer's, ALS and other brain related disorders.

The new landmark opens this Friday to the world. The historic event will be celebrated with a balloon release and speeches by Nevada leaders. The event will take place on May 21 at 10 am.

The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is located at 888 Bonneville Avenue at Grand Central Parkway.

For more information about the center please visit there site at http://www.keepmemoryalive.org/Pages/default.aspx

Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Downtown
(Photo taken by Brian Paco Alvarez)
Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Cafe & Convo @ the Arts Factory...

Have a Bright Idea? Well get down to the Arts Factory and share it at the monthly Cafe + Convo this Thursday... 8 to 10am... Click on the photo below for more information about the World Famous Arts Factory in 18b; Downtown that is...


Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Gypsy Jazz returns to Brett Wesley Gallery in 18b...

It was a few months ago that I had the pleasure of hearing these gypsies jam at the gallery and all I can say is that they are just too much fun and darn good too. There is something to be said about listening to great music, in an awesome setting, surrounded by fabulous art. Brett, Victoria and their crew do it right every month and I am sure this month is no different. So if you have something to do on Thursday night, cancel it, and come Downtown; you will not regret it.

Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

International Museum Day...

It has been ten years since I dedicated my life to the museum field. Some may ask why I would choose such a path? A path without much riches except for the beautiful things that I care for. Goodness knows my two hands have touched some of the most important history in our community. I have held Las Vegas's original bill of sale; I have touched a Chinchorro mummy; I have driven Liberace's Volkswagen; I have played George Gershwin's piano; I have gazed upon rare photos and postcards; I have cared for a couple of local magicians costumes; I even coordinated the donation of a massive 300' sign. Even with all this said I still have an addiction for historical things that few people can fathom. Simply put this is the heart of a museum professional.

Museums are the caretakers of a communities patrimony and those of us who work in the field are the ones who take on the enormous responsibility to insure that patrimony is cared for and studied. Today museums around the world celebrate International Museum Day. This years theme is "Museums for Social Harmony." So if you have some time on your hands please make sure to go and visit a few museums this week. Heck every week!

For more information on Museums in Las Vegas and Nevada please visit the Nevada Museums Association site at http://www.nevadamuseums.org/


"Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, co-operation and peace among peoples." 
ICOM - International Council of Museums  

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAS VEGAS!!!


Today we celebrate Las Vegas's 105 Anniversary and in good order we celebrate Helldorado! The week long festival culminates this weekend with a Grand Parade, Rodeo and Fair. For 76 years Helldorado has been one of our community's longest surviving traditions that celebrates the pioneers that came to this valley and created the city we live in today. You cannot call Las Vegas home if you have not been to Helldorado.

For more information on the Helldorado Festivities please the official Helldorado site http://www.elkshelldorado.com/


The Las Vegas High School Alumni Association
Volunteers standing beside the Wildcat Float
(Photo provided by Dave Williams) 
Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm 

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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105 Years old and still going...

Looking back at my five years living Downtown and of course looking back at the last 105 years of my hometowns existence one has to think what the hell are we doing here? But in the end we look at Las Vegas as a benchmark so to speak in the evolution of urbanizing the desert, for better or for worse. Granted, for awhile our rampant growth got the best of us as we blinded ourselves with the sparkle of ever increasing tax revenues and our bulging budgets. But in the end our good fortunes caught up with us and we found ourselves picking up the pieces of a broken economy. I moved Downtown when the economy was hot and now the economy is barely at room temperature. In either case we are still here working hard to make things better for ourselves and our community no matter what the statistics may say nor the boondoggle of our political morass.

Historically Las Vegas is a part of Americans obsession with the need to go West looking for fame and fortune and completing the prophecy of our manifest destiny. Even my own family in the 1960's came out to find a better life. My parents arrived in the great expanse of the Mojave Desert to see what all the hype was about. My aunt Clara was already here working for a guy named Bill at the Eldorado Casino in Henderson in the mid-sixties. She was the first women dealer in that community and one of the few in Las Vegas at the time. My aunt convinced my father to come out and try his fortunes in Las Vegas. Though my father would be leaving the "Borscht Belt" of New York and places like the "Nevele" and other Jewish resorts where he worked, he decided to cast his dice and see what Las Vegas had to offer. With my mother in tow he came to Vegas and has never left. Like a good-ole-timer he always complains out loud how good things used to be back in the day when "the boys" were around. He liked Las Vegas when it was a small community and everybody knew everyone. Though I remind him that Las Vegas is becoming a great international city; he retorts, "don't believe all the hype"; I just smile.

From an Anthropological point of view Las Vegas really has no reason to exist, at least not in its current form. Civilizations tend to gravitate around water sources such as major rivers, lakes and oceans. Places where there is an abundance of flora, fauna and arable land where agriculture can take place. Yes small bands of people have survived in inhospitable places such as the Kung-San in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana and the Aborigines of Australia. Small bands or even tribes of less then 100 people can survive in areas of limited resources, just ask the Paiute's who lived in the valley for a millennia. Add a couple of million to the mix and now you are talking about a major reliance on the power of human ingenuity.

San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Engine #3649 
arriving in Las Vegas 1905
This image used with permission from
UNLV Special Collections
Not to repeat myself but again looking back 105 years and thinking how people could have survived without air-conditioning is mind boggling. Even though I am only 36 years young I remember years ago when you drove past Jones Boulevard heading West there was not much out there but hot desert. Summerlin was not even a thought in someones mind. I even remember my father taking me out to shoot his rifle not far from Sunset Park. Now imagining what Las Vegas was like just a few feet from the railroad tracks over 100 years ago is truly unimaginable. I remember in 1999, the year I dedicated my life to the museum field, going to UNLV Special Collections and looking through their vast archives and seeing the photos of people surviving in this harsh environment. Those people, those immigrants, those Americans building what would be just another little town of wooden structures in the middle of nowhere dedicated to filling steam engines with a bit of water so they could reach there destination.

One of my favorite photos at Special Collections and possibly one of my all time favorites period is that of two unidentified woman standing next to Engine #3649 of the Salt Lake, San Pedro & Los Angeles Railroad. This photo, which was taken here in Las Vegas in 1905, is almost perfectly proportionate and shows the scale of both our humanity and of course our ingenuity. Upon studying this photo you wonder who these woman are. Are the subjects a mother and daughter or better yet a grandmother and grand-daughter? Why are they travelling? Is Los Angeles there final destination or is it Salt Lake perhaps? Looking at the way they are dressed they are obviously not of modest means but rather of middle class or better. Though we may never know who these women are we wonder to ourselves what they thought about our desert. Even when Engine #3649 pulled into Las Vegas there were no permanent structures to speak of except for the Stewart Ranch (Mormon Fort) a few miles away, which they would have never seen from where they are standing. We were barely a tent city with an old railroad car as the train depot.

It is images like these that open our imagination to the past. We look to our past to see what life was like while at the same time be thankful for what we have today. I do not think I would give up air-conditioning or all the modern conveniences of contemporary life but I am willing to look to the past to see how they survived and implement a little of those survival tactics today. Getting back to the basics in these challenging times is not a bad thing. If anything the economic downturn has taught us, that we must look at our community for the great things it has to offer rather than complain about what it does not have. Goodness knows there is a lot of positive things about Las Vegas if you are willing to go out and seek them. We must look at how to simplify things in our lives and appreciate the beauty around us.

Visiting places like UNLV Special Collections is a great way to look back in time. It is a time capsule and a repository of our past. A place where prominent families and businesses have left there papers and photographs to be preserved far into the future. Though Las Vegas is a city that prides itself with destroying its architectural past we actually have quite a history that can be felt and touched everyday. There are dozens of historic neighborhoods that can be walked, there are several museums dedicated to Las Vegas and Nevada History that can be visited and if you are one of the lucky ones to know a few of the private collectors in town they may show you their prized Las Vegas memorabilia.

As Las Vegas celebrates 105 years the time has come to reflect about what we want our community to look like 105 years from now. We should not sit by and wait 105 years but rather start making the changes today and resetting our way of thinking. Some may leave Las Vegas and many have because they have lost there jobs, but there are many of us that have decided to stay either by choice or by necessity. Whether our staying in Las Vegas was a choice or not, this is a perfect time to see where Las Vegas came from and where we can take it. Las Vegas is a city that developed out of necessity whether it was to supply the trains with water or to create a place that people can visit. Now that we are well aware of our community's vulnerabilities we must look to our past and reflect at how our community reset itself during challenging times. The time is now to use our ingenuity and reshape our community for its future and this can only happen if you are willing to embrace it.

Yes we conquered the desert but let us hope that the desert will not conquer us.

Happy Birthday Las Vegas...

For more information about UNLV Special Collections please visit there site at http://www.library.unlv.edu/speccol/

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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Monday, May 10, 2010

The King of Bling Celebrates 31 years...

For 31 years the Liberace Museum an icon of the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas has stood the test of time. Through the ebb and flow of Las Vegas History this monument to one of the most under appreciated entertainment icons has showcased one of the most remarkable costume collections in the world; aside of all the other artifacts that the museum houses. When you mention museum and Las Vegas in the same sentence people automatically assume Liberace. This has been the staying power of a name that epitomizes showmanship and entertainment respectively.

Liberace's life was a classic American Rags to Riches story. Born of modest means in West Alice, Wisconsin on May 16, 1919 he was the son of Salvatore and Francis Liberace. Originally named Walter Valentino Liberace he later dropped the first two names in favor of his more impacting last name. Though early on his name was mispronounced, "Libor-Race," eventually his fans and media got it right.

As the former Collections Manager/ Curator of the Liberace Museum I will state this unequivocally that Elvis had nothing on Lee (Liberace's nickname). Lee's talents as a trained concert pianist metamorphosized into a showman that was covered in works-of-art to please his fans beyond imagination. With statements like "see what you get when you practice," while showing off his rings to children or his capes dripping in rhinestones Liberace was able to connect with his fans far beyond any entertainer had done before or even today. Liberace loved his fans and in turn they adored him. They sent him tons of gifts in appreciation and since he never threw anything away his solution was simple, just buy another house to fill up with stuff.

Though I could go on writing about Liberace for days and my memorable three years (2000-2003) at the Rhinestone Ritz I will save that for my book.

Today the Liberace Museum celebrates 31 years of history as a mainstay of the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas. With a week long series of events planned the museum invites the community to celebrate the life of Liberace. If you have not made it to the Liberace Museum you are truly missing out on what Las Vegas was like many years ago. There is no museum that represents Las Vegas Entertainment better than this one.

For more information about the Liberace Foundation and Museum please visit their site at http://www.liberace.org/

Tell Lee Paco sent you; I am sure he is still hanging out...

"As its emblem, I cite my favorite objet in his collection - it's keystone in fact - the secret heart and sacred ark of Las Vegas itself: "The Worlds Largest Rhinestone..."
- Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy 1997

Nevada Public Radio
For more information on the Cultural Arts in Las Vegas please visit Nevada Public Radio. NPR has detailed listings of many cultural and civic events hosted by area non-profits click on this link http://www.knpr.org/common/psa/listNEW.cfm and if you are planning an event in the next few months, be sure to get your free listing in Nevada Public Radio's Desert Companion magazine by submitting the information here at http://www.knpr.org/culture/eventaddnew.cfm

Have You donated to KNPR? Pledge Now at http://www.knpr.org/index.cfm


Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

posted by Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator and Chronicler of Culture at | 0 Comments