When one door closes, so they say, another door opens.
In this case, the door opening is that of Ambient Art Projects. Nestled on the property of a home in West Las Vegas, AAP is an art advisory firm with a secondary goal of filling an ever-widening gap in Las Vegas: venues for looking at art. With inaugural exhibit Pairs, the new endeavor is off to an auspicious start.
The practice of generating salons and galleries in homes and apartments is time-honored: Simply put, it’s a terrific solution to the problem of finding affordable space. This usually means that someone transforms a living room (or any room) into a gallery for a predetermined period of time, often viewable by appointment only. Ambient Art Projects’ exhibition space is on a much grander scale than most domestic ventures, a big beautiful concrete-and-glass structure that fits the mold of the classic white cube—a desirable venue by any standard. Work just looks good in the space.
The artists featured in Pairs—designed, in part, as an introduction to AAP—exemplify the Projects’ interest in acquainting Las Vegas with fresh, emerging national and local talent.
Immediately recognizable is the work of local artist James Hough, represented here by two pieces (get it, Pairs?) most recently on view at the Clark County Government Center. While both are solid, the more invigorating is “Whirligig.” Evoking Mark Grotjahn’s ongoing series of butterfly paintings, Hough creates paper geometric forms that are then materialized in MDF (medium-density fiberboard) on a larger scale and stained with a spectrum of thoughtful color. “Whirligig” is intimately scaled, rewarding in its revelation of imperfections and vulnerable exposure of the artist’s hand.
An exciting inclusion is Hilary Baker, a Los Angeles artist whose small, almost naïve paintings are rich in pattern and color. The work speaks intimately of our desert landscape. Other great finds are Rosalyn Schwartz, Carrie Ungerman and Nancy Braver, whose seductive acrylic wall pieces are equal parts architecture and drawing. Really good stuff.
As it stands, the space is available to visit by appointment only, but AAP is just getting its feet wet: The long-term goal is a free-standing gallery space, and more challenging installations are planned for the future.
I must confess that I am not that interested in art advisory, but I am super interested in art. Although the exhibition space at AAP could be conceived of as a showroom, the owners seem genuinely motivated to share with the community artwork that they really like—and it is good work. This dimension of their Project is an inspired example of alternative methods of looking at art. In a similar vein, the soon-to-come reincarnation of the sorely missed Main Gallery as an in-home experimental exhibition space is not to be missed. Let’s hope these projects are a sign of further exploratory exhibition spaces to come.