Las Vegas has many reputations, one being its famed transitory nature—ephemeral castles built on infertile soil in an inhospitable desert, a place where tourists are shuttled in and out and the majority of residents are just passing through. It’s a community abandoned by permanency, where razed architecture is mourned as development is championed by an economy that thrives on moving forward.
“What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.” Not really. Try Nothing Stays Here, the title of artist Erik Beehn’s exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center. As noted in the exhibit statement, “the only consistencies are in individual memories.” But collectively we can relate to Beehn’s mixed media inkjet prints of the parched desert landscape, railroad imagery and symbols of American life in muted tones both somber and comforting.
Anchoring it all is “The Elephant in the Room,” a photo of the Huntridge Theatre that had been transferred on 480 Post-It notes, which visitors cherry-picked, leaving only a shell of the original portrait. The process of “Elephant” is telling in every detail. But one nagging thought in all of this, whether intended or not, is that in this remote desert and increasingly tapped-out environment, we might all be moving on sooner than later.