After curating an exhibit here with work by New York artists (which he was also in), Yo Fukui donated one of his own sculptures to UNLV’s Barrick Museum. The sculpture, handed over in 2012, was the first piece to land at the Barrick following its transition to an art, rather than a natural history, museum.
This month, Robert Beckmann’s 1990 painting “Belly Glass” arrived, an X-ray torso partially covered with entrails with gold working its way through them, and a losing slot machine reel at the top. Donated by the artist, it follows another contribution, mixed-media work on paper by artist Erik Beehn.
Aurore Giguet, Barrick’s program director, says this is the beginning of what will likely become Barrick’s heritage collection, refreshing news given the talent and perspectives of the numerous artists who, however briefly, have called Las Vegas their home. Las Vegas Art Museum’s collection—temporarily housed at the Barrick—includes work by artists who’ve studied here, but that’s mostly dominated by those here during the Dave Hickey era.
The Barrick program thus far has been informal. Collectors have not stepped forward to donate works, and Jerry Schefcik, UNLV’s director of galleries, says the school is not seeking them out, though he has spoken to a few artists whose history and stature, he says, makes their presence in the collection important.
“There are really great artists who have come through here, and they’re gone and all we have is a memory,” Schefcik says. “We really need to put some roots down and show some evidence.”