Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | 6 p.m.
Alec Monopoly is the alias of an unidentified yet famous graffiti artist, and he’s joining the newly named Hi Festival that the Keep Memory Alive fundraising arm of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is adding to the monthly First Friday downtown events starting in May.
The street artist will join DJ Avicii, top vegan chef Tal Ronnen and “Extra’s” Mario Lopez for the first Hi party. Alec’s paintings, which often use satirical spins of the board game Monopoly, have sold for as much as $3 million.
In December, he made headlines painting a “live artwork” on the red carpet for the premiere of Justin Bieber’s concert documentary. His work on the streets of London, Paris and New York has been hailed by art critics and have been hung in W Hotels.
He also has been commissioned by Madonna for her tour artwork, hip-hop star A$AP Rocky and Victoria’s Secret stunner Karolina Kurkova, who he painted at the Art Basel fair in Miami.
Posters for the new Hi Festival will feature a whole new graffiti look to the landmark Frank Gehry building, but let’s hope it stays on the posters and not to the Lou Ruvo Center.
TATTOO WINNERS: Two Las Vegas tattoo artist remain after two weeks of grueling competition among the 14 contestants in Season 4 of “Ink Master” on Spike. Our Club Tattoo artist Walter “Sausage” Frank won best tattoo of the week on Tuesday night’s.
King Ruck, owner and artist at Black Spade Tattoo and Red Elephant Tattoo, was safe during the elimination flash challenge, where teams had to tattoo mirror images on a pair of twins.
Next Tuesday, Sausage and King will be presented with full-body naked canvases to create aquatic tats. One contestant loses his or her cool.
PARTY TIME: Las Vegas VIPs turned out in force Tuesday night for the grand opening of “Da Vinci: The Exhibition” at the Venetian. Ten years in the making, the exhibition has more than 65 Italian renaissance inventions, and several are interactive.
Sit in the 15th century tank, go inside the box of eight mirror images and play with the first piano. Da Vinci’s paintings from “Mona Lisa” to “The Last Supper” are overwhelming. The exhibition is booked through January, but I’m hoping before then that exhibition President Tom Zaller opens his dinosaurs display with one that guests will be able to ride.
PAC-12: For the second consecutive year, MGM Grand hosts the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, which starts today. The event features 11 thrilling games over four days televised on Fox Sports. This is the Conference of Champions, and the winner of the 2014 title gets an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Our Sun sports colleague Case Keefer discovered that four of Oregon’s top nine players have strong Las Vegas ties even though they are one of the four farthest schools from our valley. Players from Utah, Washington, Washington State, Colorado, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, California and UCLA compete on the court to reach Saturday’s finals.
CHEFS NOTES: Congratulations to chef Bobby Flay (Mesa Grill, Bobby’s Burger Palace) who was named today an honoree of the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Chefs & Champagne gala July 26 in New York. More than 30 star chefs will salute him with culinary offerings.
JBF President Susan Ungaro noted: “He received our Rising Star Chef of the Year Award at the start of his career in 1993, and now we recognize him again as our honoree. He has starred in over a dozen hit national cooking shows, co-hosted the James Beard Awards and taught President Obama how to grill on The White House lawn, and he’s always maintained the integrity of each and every one of his projects along the way. Bobby is truly one of the finest chefs of our time.”
Michael LaPlaca has been named the new executive chef at Portofino, which has replaced Onde Wine Bar at the Mirage. Michael began work as a cook in Cleveland in 2002 for four years before joining Fiamma Italian at MGM. After graduating from our Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, he moved on to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon at the Venetian and then Sinatra and Alex at Encore and Wynn, respectively.
Michael then was at David Burke in New York before returning here for Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace and then Due Forni off-Strip. Now he’s in charge of menu creation and restaurant operations. Michael has created menu highlights in honor of the famous Italian fishing village, including hand-rolled meatballs made with fried squash blossoms, risotto and crab meat patties and a hand-crafted pasta served with lobster and chanterelle mushrooms.
Sochi Winter Olympics champions Kaillie Humphries, back-to-back gold-medalist Canadian bobsledder, and members from the Canadian women’s hockey team celebrated with a Las Vegas visit to Blue Man Group in Monte Carlo. The team included Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Laura Fortino, Brianne Jenner, Rebecca Johnston, Meaghan Mikkelson, Lauriane Rougeau, Natalie Spooner and Tara Watchorn. They went backstage post-show for a VIP meet-and-greet with cast members and posed for photos, displaying their gold medals.
As the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament starts at MGM Grand and runs through Saturday, the Mountain West Conference and Western Athletic Conference championships continue at the Thomas & Mack Center and Orleans Arena, respectively.
An advance look at the summer pool season opening in earnest this weekend, plus, our “Top Chef” New Orleans cheftestant Shirley Chung returns from a fascinating trip through South Korea with an account of her travels before settling down here with her restaurant plans.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.