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 28, 2011

The late Dennis Oppenheim's Paintbrushes to be dedicated...

Finally after four long years of meetings, planning and construction the controversial Dennis Oppenheim Gateway Paintbrushes in the 18b Arts District Downtown will be dedicated. It marks the end of a tumultuous period for public art in Las Vegas, when the public questioned it's cost and the untimely death of its creator had some wondering if they would ever get finished. Though I personally have not always been a fan of the Paintbrushes, they are finally completed and now will be part of the artistic landscape of our community for a very long time.

Unlike other significant works of public art, the Paintbrushes only work as art at night when they are fully lit. During the day they just disappear into the landscape and the only thing that makes them distinct is the fact that they stand slightly askew, like the leaning Tower of Pisa. When compared to the Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen Flashlight at UNLV, undoubtedly the most important piece of public art in Las Vegas history, the Paintbrushes stand in stark contrast. Whereas the Flashlight was meant to work as art, both during the day and at night, it was also purposely turned upside down so that its beam of light would not be seen as "clich├ęd and reminiscent of authoritarian spectacle", as van Bruggen once stated. The paintbrushes on the other hand shoot beams of light 2000 feet into the air and demand it's attention. An interesting metaphor for an art scene desperately in need of acknowledgement in a community that does not recognize its importance.

I sometimes wonder if Dennis Oppenheim new of this little detail and purposely made the Paintbrushes point upward as an affront to the Flashlight itself. Though I will leave that final thought to art historians to debate, it is interesting that the Paintbrushes are being dedicated shortly after the 30th anniversary of the Flashlight. In the end they are here to stay and I do have to say the Paintbrushes are quite charming, albeit only at night.

The Dennis Oppenheim Paintbrushes will be dedicated by Mayor Oscar B. Goodman on Thursday June 2 at 7:30. The dedication will take place at Brett Wesley Gallery on the corner of Charleston and Casino Center.

Brett Wesley Gallery
1112 South Casino Center Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89104-1014
(702) 433-4433

Dennis Oppenheim
Claes Oldenberg & Coosje van Bruggen

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 linkhttp://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
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Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

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


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