Las Vegas Sun

November 23, 2017

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PEOPLE IN THE ARTS:

The arts will mature because the city is going to mature.”

Image

Sam Morris

Diane Bush holds a work that was created when she held a public “Imbleachment of Bush” event at a recent First Friday in the Las Vegas Arts District.

Beyond the Sun

Name: Diane Bush, photographer

Age: 58

Medium: Photography and mixed media

Day job: Recreation and cultural specialist for Clark County

Education: City and Guilds Certificate from Paddington Technical College in London in studio photography; master’s degree in fine arts/photojournalism from the State University of New York at Buffalo

Hobbies/interests: She and her husband, Steven, are rabid collectors of everything old and interesting: clothes, records books, furniture and home decor.

Why Vegas? Had a contest with her husband to see who could get a job in the Southwest first. He won. They moved here in 1997.

Her story: Bush grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. As an 18-year-old antiwar activist in 1968, she fled the country with a draft dodger and went to the United Kingdom, returning to take care of her parents 10 years later.

In Europe and back in the States, Bush had focused mostly on nonpolitical photography, taught photography, made art and showed art — what she describes as her “easy listening period.”

Her antiwar sentiments returned during the Gulf War and she set out to create work that would reflect what she saw as censorship by the “white media elite,” politicians and pundits discussing the war in the safety of studios, rather than showing the reality of soldiers in battle. For 43 days, she photographed the talking heads on her television as they discussed the war. The distorted television images became part of a body of work titled, “Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Had Cable.”

When the United States invaded Iraq, Bush again returned to her political work, this time throwing bleach onto the images to create a sense of violence — explosions and fire — to contrast with the safe correspondents and anchors reporting the war from their studios. That work became “Warheads,” an exhibit that resulted in a book of the same name, published by KuDa Editions of Las Vegas in 2006.

Recent projects: Her interactive street theater project, “The Im-BLEACHment of George W. Bush,” involved a public bleach throwing outside the Arts Factory in October. More than 60 guests, who were attending First Friday, were given little cups of bleach to throw at the President Bush’s image.

The project was inspired by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s 35 articles of impeachment against the president.

The “visual exorcism” of the bleach throwing was videotaped by Tony Quirk and placed on youtube.com.

What next? Will continue her satirical work, including “Global Swarming,” a photo series she started in 1989.

The project includes distorting television images into abstract or figurative art pieces, reflective of the effects of global warming. She’s considering a project that deals with rape and sexual abuse among military personnel in combat zones and the suicide rate of veterans.

The arts in Vegas: Bush got involved in Contemporary Arts Center and the Nevada Institute of Contemporary Art the day she landed in Las Vegas. She taught photography at College of Southern Nevada and volunteered with both organizations. She’s curated exhibits and organized art events, and has been a mainstay in the arts since. “It’s evolving slowly. I feel strongly that now that the Contemporary Arts Center is reunited with UNLV, that it’s on a solid path. It’s kind of sad losing Libby Lumpkin (who resigned last year as executive director of Las Vegas Art Museum). But I think we’re fine. The arts will mature because the city is going to mature.”

Sticking around? “It depends. There is a possibility that we could be up in Reno. We like Portland in the summer. We like Italy. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?”

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