Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
One way a community can establish a sense of identity is through public art. Architect Jeffrey Rhoads is someone who recognizes the possibilities of incorporating Southern Nevada’s culture and heritage into art that is accessible to all of the valley’s residents.
As reported in the Las Vegas Sun last week by Brendan Buhler, Rhoads came up with the idea of decorating the valley’s highway bridges, combining public art with public works projects.
“It’s not a particularly original idea, it’s just that no one was doing it here,” Rhoads said.
We have Rhoads to thank for highway bridges along the Las Vegas Beltway in Summerlin that depict Native American petroglyphs, a reminder of the ancient rock art that can be found in the desert throughout Southern Nevada. We also have Rhoads to thank for other highway bridges along Interstate 15 in North Las Vegas that show hot air balloons and Air Force planes, the latter representing a tip of the hat to Nellis Air Force Base.
Rhoads said: “Public works is not just about moving cars or sewage. It’s about uplifting the civic and cultural environment.”
The decorative bridges should serve as an inspiration to others, in both the public and private sectors, who are responsible for future construction.
Public art should be incorporated into as many future plans as possible. The valley’s artistic community is certainly deep and talented enough to contribute to that process.
We as a community can settle for dull, boring, expressionless environs or we can launch a renaissance of expression through public art that will come to represent a maturing metropolis. The choice is clear.