Las Vegas Sun

December 14, 2018

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A new idea of beauty

Todd VonBastiaans steps onto a chair in the middle of his new gallery/boutique to announce the evening's entertainment.

Out comes burlesque performer Kalani Coconuts, who removes her clothing piece by piece for the crowd that politely formed a ring around her.

Coconuts is almost too perfect for the private party showcasing the exhibit "Uncle Todd's Parade of Botched Beauties," which opened this week. The performance, however, oozes vaudevillian-style sexuality, meshing well with featured artist Rachel Moseley's tendency toward the theatrical.

"I love the circus and the idea of illusion and of beauty and what beauty is today," Moseley says. "My art is a mixture of circus freaks and hookers, the seedy side of girls."

Moseley's off-kilter, sexually strong, stitched and tattooed ladies hang on the walls. They're block cuts, relief prints and mixed media. Some are hand-colored with liquid acrylic. Others have patterned and textured paper stitched into them.

The women are tough and rough, unusual, pretty and edgy with full beards.

VonBastiaans bypassed austerity for theatrical props and lighting to supplement the space. Antique vanities (themed to match the characters), a church kneeler, and giant suitcases augment each display. Silk-screened and embroidered images from Moseley's art are reflected in VonBastiaans' new apparel line, Sugar Punk Faerie.

Many know VonBastiaans for bringing in Obstacle Art, the interactive art miniature golf course that had a several-month run on Commerce Street.

"I come from a theater background," VonBastiaans says. "I just want things to be interesting and different. I didn't want a typical gallery hanging."

He'll also hang traditional exhibits, nonboutique style. But expect a touch of kitsch and the unusual with each show. This is no place for the ordinary.

"I'm trying to bring in things that aren't Vegas and things that people here haven't seen," says VonBastiaans, who grew up in Chicago, received his bachelor's degree in theater arts from St. Mary's University in Minnesota, spent three years in Los Angeles and moved to Las Vegas 11 years ago.

Moseley, 21, a native of Santa Cruz, Calif., majors in women's studies and print-making in Chico, Calif. Her tattoolike style from a woman's perspective intrigued VonBastiaans, who says, "Most artists doing stuff like that are men."

Details: 1541 S. Commerce St., Suite 100, noon-5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 386-8633 or www.atomictodd.com.

Downtown infusion

New galleries and businesses in the Arts District have everyone in party mode.

VURB magazine just moved into a space in the Arts Factory on Main Street and Charleston Boulevard and is featuring new works by David Ryan. Edward & Edward Fine Art is just across the street, and art-related businesses have filled spaces behind the Arts Factory. Exclusive sneaker boutique Epic Shoos opened a few months ago on Main Street. Now Commerce Street is kicking it up a notch. Next to Atomic Todd is The Fall Out gallery and its inaugural exhibit, "Radiant Residue," featuring work by Bay Area artist Jessalyn Haggenjos. Her paintings and dioramas place nuclear and industrial plants next to American neighborhoods and offer fluid remappings of Earth. There are abstract representations of industrial messes, miniature protesters stand atop the dioramas - chunks of styrofoam earth attached to the wall. Some paintings resemble oil spills or offer a distant view of our chemically damaged and reconfigured planet.

The rest of the Arts District should be as outlandish as ever. Downtown stages tonight will include performances by Eddie Haskell and His Singing Saw and Machina Candeo Fire Performance Company - a troupe of fire-breathing, fire-slinging, stilt-walking and belly-dancing circus performers from Los Angeles. Both will be performing at California Street and Casino Center Boulevard.

Details: www.firstfriday-lasvegas.org

Artexpo Las Vegas

It doesn't have the prestige of the Armory Show in New York City or Art Basel Miami Beach, but Artexpo New York trumpets itself as the largest art expo, drawing more than 500 galleries and scores of dealers every spring to the Javitz Convention Center.

This year Artexpo is expanding westward with a fall expo in Las Vegas and is seeking exhibitors for the Sept. 28-30 show at Mandalay Bay.

Reputable Las Vegas companies and galleries from Western states have participated in the New York event, which has been around for almost 30 years.

In 2005, however, the Big Apple expo got a sour taste of Las Vegas when Michael Godard Fine Arts company hired a go-go dancer and dwarfs to perform in a cage in the expo hall, causing a nasty rift between Godard and other dealers who complained that it was cheap promotion and distracting to eventgoers.

The situation even caused an uproar with the convention manager. Godard's representatives fought back in the name of censorship. The scene garnered a write-up in The New York Times.

Ah, Las Vegas.

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