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2015 Fall Culture Guide

Spencer Olsen
Courtesy Blackbird Studios

Spencer Olsen piece

Visual arts | Music | Theater & Dance | Literature & Ideas | Family, Festivals & Food

A big-deal poet comes to town. Offbeat musicians unite for an evening. Artists show their work, actors emote onstage: fall will be chockablock — that’s right, chockablock! — with culture. Our smartly curated guide will help you make the most of this autumn bounty.


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Guns don’t create art, artists USING guns doIn a patch of desert on the outskirts of Vegas, artist Sean Russell shot blocks of sculpting clay with a variety of firearms, then cooked and glazed the results. The upshot: the weirdly beautiful and tormented pieces in the exhibit South of Town that comprise a treatise on randomness, the captured moment and the extraordinary power of guns. (SD) Clark County Government Center, free, 702-455-7340


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Cuban natureWhimsical and folkloric sculptures by Rafael Espino, a Cuban émigré artist who’s said to have been an imprisoned enemy of Castro. (SD) Rhizome Gallery (in Emergency Arts), free,

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50 is the new artyCelebrating Life! Collects the winners of the city’s 15th juried art show for local artists of a certain age — 50 and up — in seven categories, including drawing, painting, photography and 3-D work. (SD) Las Vegas City Hall Chamber Gallery, free, 702-229-1012


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This is the line my pencil makes as it scoots across the paperThe action of drawing — an emphasis on the movement of the instrument against the surface as much as the resulting image — is the subject uniting the five artists from America and beyond whose work is shown in Action + Object + Exchange. Some are deceptively simple, others not so much, but the emphasis on process is palpable in each. (SD) Satellite Contemporary Gallery (in Emergency Arts), free,


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Hey, look! A real museum!The Barrick Museum highlights selections from the Vogel Collection as well as some recent acquisitions. Though it can be easy to lose track of the Barrick in the larger context of UNLV, it’s still the city’s prime museum, and these shows are a good way to see what it’s been up to lately. (SD) Barrick Museum, free,


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The big drawNarrative, large drawings by Domenic Cretara and Christopher Troutman. To do a Google image search on these guys is to be bowled over by their sheer skill. Now imagine some of those images drawn large. (SD) Charleston Heights Art Center, free, 702-229-6383


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Thinking inside the boxFollow the bouncing theme: Because artist Marlene Siu has a thing — referred to as an “obsession” in the PR materials — for building containers, and another thing for photographing people in their environments; she has merged those things in this series of large color photos. She’s built environments for specific people, then shot them within. (SD) Winchester Gallery, free, 702-455-7340

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Artists get literaryIn a nod to the Vegas Valley Book Festival, a group of mostly local artists — including Montana Black, Gig Depio, Richard Hooker, Bobbie Ann Howell, Kim Johnson — interpret the ideas of “narrative” and “mystery” in the show It Happened Like This. (SD) Historic Fifth Street School, free, 702-229-1012



A little bit of everythingFor his show at Blackbird Studios, artist Spencer Olsen says, “I will be showing a series of paintings and drawings. A series of collages. Some large prints of drawings I’ve never exhibited.” And the pièce de résistance? An animated installation, half of which is handmade, the other half of which was generated on computer. It’s a collabo with the artist KITZE. (SD) Blackbird Studios, free,



Could anyone be more of-the-moment?Lecture by Hrag Vartanian, co-founder of art blog Hyperallergic and expert on performance, online, multicultural and street art. (SD) 7p, Barrick Museum, free,



Downtown ArchitctureCommissioned by the city, photographers Ryan Reason and Jennifer Burkhart have compiled In Focus: Downtown Architecture, an exhibit documenting some 25 Downtown buildings that are considered significant. (Opening reception 5p, September 17.) (SD) Through November 19, City Hall Chamber Gallery, free, 702-229-4631



We think they’re symbolicFor her stylized evocations of the desert, artist Rebecca Pugh paints old strips of bed linens in landscape shades — browns, tans, ochres, yellows, blues — and attaches them to free-standing frames. (Opening reception 6p, September 25.) (SD) Through November 13, Clark County Government Center, free, 702-455-7340



Life is artfulOnce again, Life is Beautiful includes a visual-arts component, ranging from murals and street art (D*Face, MTO) to the annual “art motel,” which brings together a vast roster of artists that includes Anthony Bondi, Jim Braire, Kim Johnson, Sin City Gallery, Eric Vozzola and the UNLV Robotics Lab. (SD) Downtown Las Vegas,



That’s right, we said “murder a clown”Mike Cockrill’s figurative paintings have a sharp, racy edge. Evoking both advertising and high art, and often leavening their sexual undertones with sly humor, his paintings depict adolescent longing and the occasional desire to murder a clown. Ought to make for a heck of a lecture. (SD) 7p, Barrick Museum, free,



Su and SierraBlackbird Studios rocks October with pair of shows by gallery favorites Su Limbert, known for her alternately whimsical and melancholy figurative pieces, and Sierra Slentz. (Opening reception 6p) (SD) Blackbird Studios, free,



First come, first hungNo jurying for this art show: The first 100 artists who applied, and whose work met the basic selection criteria (had to be one to 100 years old; no larger than 10 inches square), were accepted for Resurrected: The Early Works. (SD) Satellite Contemporary Gallery (in Emergency Arts), free,



Yes, Cuba has contemporary artWork by four Cuban artists — Angel Delgado, Sandra Ceballos-Obaya, Ariel Orozco and Sandra Ramos — who chronicled and challenged the fraying of Cuban society under its communist regime. The exhibit, Through Windows, Through Curtains, Call on Us: Contemporary Cuban Art, was curated by UNLV professor Robert Tracy. (SD) Through November 14, UNLV’s Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery, free,



If there were a Justice League of Art, this would be its coreThree superheroes of Las Vegas art — Erin Stellmon, Wendy Kveck and Jo Russ — team up for a big show titled Break Ups & Tear Downs. Each will show a mix of new and previously shown work, all touching on how the artists work societal themes into their pieces, whether the issue is women and power (Kveck), gender and sexuality (Russ) or destruction and rebuilding (Stellmon). (SD) Through January 23, Barrick Museum, free,



Talking the walkArtist Carrie Moyer discusses her work, which covers a lot of ground. Her recent paintings have layered brightly colored biomorphic abstractions in ways that are both eye-popping and, if you’re into that sort of thing, rich with art-historical references. But she’s also done explicitly political agitprop. (SD) 7p, Barrick Museum, free,



Straight outta BaghdadRecent work by Nanda Sharifpour and Ali Fathollahi, sumptuously talented artists who emigrated to Las Vegas from Iran. You read about them in the June Desert Companion, now see their handiwork. (SD) Through November 30, Blackbird Studios, free,



Hey, everyone, it’s Robert Irwin!Lecture by Robert Irwin, the legendary artist most recently hailed for his vast Grand Garden at the Getty Museum in L.A. (SD) 7p, Barrick Museum, free,



Valentin YordanovWhat does a “nonplace” look like? Artist Valentin Yordanov does his best to create them, bending lines and shapes and colors into arrangements that snuggle into the space between abstract forms and recognizable landscapes. (Reception 5:30p, November 20.) (SD) Through January 8, Winchester Cultural Center, 702-455-7340



Build it and they will come (study it)Lecture by Matthew Coolidge, founder and director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, a think tank and project creator devoted to examining the built landscape. (SD) 7p, Barrick Museum, free,



The twee of life Group show themed to the movies of Wes Anderson. Whimsy galore! (Reception 6p.) (SD) Through December 31, Blackbird Studios, free,



Beyond the frameLecture by Letha Wilson, an innovative photographic artist who’s created photo sculptures and photos with 3-D elements. (SD) 7p, Barrick Museum, free,


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