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January 27, 2022

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LVAM is closing, but it don’t bother Jim

LVAM L.A. Now show

Steve Marcus

At LVAM’s “L.A. Now” show, which closes with the museum on Saturday: “S.O.S.,” from left, is acrylic on canvas by Wendell Gladstone; “Half Knot,” by Jared Pankin, uses wood, sawdust, synthetic fur and glass eyes; and “Country Boy” by Wayne White is mixed media.

A conversation between two Las Vegans after last week’s announced closing of Las Vegas Art Museum. Dave is saddened by the closing. Jim, not so much.

Dave: Did you hear that they’re closing LVAM? Not enough funding. Two million people live here, and only 1,000 paying members. That’s really sad.

Jim: LVAM. LVAM. OK, I give. What’s LVAM?

Dave: The Las Vegas Art Museum. It’s the city’s art museum, essentially. It started as a kind of art club in 1950. It might be resurrected when the economy recovers, but we’ll see. It’s a sad time.

Jim: I thought that place already closed. That’s Steve Wynn’s deal at the Bellagio, right? He tells you all about Andy Warhol through a little handheld radio thing. My aunt and uncle went there a few years ago …

Dave: No. That’s the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, and it’s still open, but Steve Wynn doesn’t own it anymore. He doesn’t own the Bellagio anymore, either, actually …

Jim: Right. That’s where he slammed his elbow through the painting, Revved. The Revver, or whatever.

Dave: That’s actually his own piece, Le Reve, by Picasso. He accidentally hit that painting with his elbow a couple of years ago at a party at the Wynn, but it’s been repaired. It’s never been part of any LVAM exhibit, though. It’s at the Wynn Macau at the moment. You’re way off …

Jim: Wait. Motorcycles! This LVAM is where the motorcycle show was, right?

Dave: No, that was the “Art of the Motorcycle” show at the Guggenheim Las Vegas at The Venetian. That museum closed years ago. So has the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, the smaller museum at The Venetian.

Jim: The motorcycles closed? I can’t believe that. I would think that the motorcycles would have gone on forever.

Dave: It did pretty well, actually …

Jim: I still need to hit that big Harley shop out on Warm Springs.

Dave: Yeah. Well, the show at the LVAM now is called “L.A. Now.” No motorcycles. It’s all work by several emerging artists from L.A.

Jim: After they emerge, what? They go back to L.A.? They get called up to the bigs?

Dave: They’re just providing work for this show, and it’s really inventive. There’s one multimedia piece called “Country Boy” by a guy named Wayne White, who was a set designer for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” He won an Emmy for his work on that show, actually. This “Country Boy” has a peephole built into the back that shows a forest, and you can just gaze into it and pick out all the detail work. It’s fascinating.

Jim: I loved “Pee-wee’s Playhouse!” Ha-ha! Ha-ha! La-la-la!

Dave: You should check out this “L.A. Now” show, then, before the museum closes on Saturday.

Jim: OK, maybe. Where is this place? Is it in the First Friday area? Shuttle over from The Griffin?

Dave: Uh, no. It’s out on West Sahara Avenue, west of Village Square, east of Town Center.

Jim: I thought you said this place was in Las Vegas.

Dave: The museum itself is located inside the Sahara West Library.

Jim: There is a library out there?

Dave: Yeah, you can check out books, reserve computers, the whole nine.

Jim: I haven’t been out on West Sahara in forever, since Z Tejas closed. That place had the most awesome happy hour. What’s the cover charge at the LVAM, anyway?

Dave: Six bucks for adults.

Jim: Six bucks, gas from Henderson all the way out to Summerlin, practically. And how much time out of my life?

Dave: I spent about an hour there yesterday.

Jim: OK, that’s just not gonna happen. How long am I supposed to stare at the Pee-wee guy’s artwork? Twenty minutes?

Dave: This is the problem, Jim. In some circles, we call this attitude “contempt before investigation.” You have no idea what’s out there, do you?

Jim: Guilty. I don’t know. But I don’t need to know, you know? Look, I don’t like seeing the place close, but my neighbor is a landscaper, and he hasn’t worked in six weeks. I feel sad for him.

Dave: You think that somehow the closing of this museum is going to help your friend find work? I’m not following you.

Jim: It’s like this: When you have a friend die, you are really sad because you knew this person and were close to him and you feel a sense of real personal loss. When a stranger dies, especially when the stranger is a great person, you might feel sadness that someone great has died. But you’re not crying over that person. Your friend, that’s who you’re crying for.

Dave:So, it’s like you don’t know this museum well enough to shed a tear.

Jim: Not this kid, nope.

Dave: I think a whole lot of people in this city, probably most of them, feel the same as you.

Jim: It is what it is, bro. But I’m sure there is a lot of culture still around in Las Vegas.

Dave: Yeah, true. We still have the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

Jim: What! You’re telling me there’s a philharmonic in this town … ?

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