2011 Year in Review: Art and Theater

Matthew Couper’s “Trickle-Down Theory” from the CAC’s 22nd Annual Juried Show
Kristen Peterson, Danielle Kelly, Jacob Coakley



1. The Gacy debacle Any of the top five on this list could be No. 1, but we’re ranking here, so the public deriding and shunning of one of Las Vegas’ oldest arts groups wins. Wes Myles, owner of the Arts Factory, hosts a fundraiser in which proceeds from the sales of murderabilia that belonged to notorious pedophile and serial killer John Wayne Gacy are used to support the Contemporary Arts Center, prompting some locals to walk away from the 20-plus-year-old arts organization.

Arts District nightlife ranks sixth on Kristen Peterson's list.

Arts District nightlife ranks sixth on Kristen Peterson's list.

2. The Smith Center reveals its schedule The Smith Center reveals its schedule Tickets to see Broadway shows, well-known musicians, David Sedaris and more go on sale, officially making Las Vegas’ first performing arts center a reality.

3. A First Friday changeup Whirlygig sells its First Friday trademark to a small group of buyers, which includes Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

4. The Barrick transforms Staff efforts to turn the Barrick Museum into an art museum prove successful when UNLV announces that Barrick is now part of the College of Fine Arts.

5. Nevada State Museum relocates The museum finally reopens at the Springs Preserve, providing Las Vegas’ unique history with the facility it deserves.

6. Bar and Artifice open The Bar at Bar+Bistro opens in the Arts District followed by Artifice, bringing nightlife to the area.

Victims of John Wayne Gacy.

7. Dennis Oppenheim dies The sculptor, in his 70s, dies unexpectedly while his controversial public-art project in the Arts District awaits completion.

8. Hendee and Borg leave town Las Vegas loses two important artists, Stephen Hendee and Catherine Borg, when Hendee accepts a new job at Maryland Institute College of Art.

9. Pop Up Art House opens Henderson native Shannon Mc Mackin returns from LA to open one of the Valley’s most intelligent galleries in an industrial part of Henderson.

10. Centerpiece closes The staff at MCQ Fine Art Advisory return to its 7th Street salon after two years running CityCenter’s Centerpiece Gallery.



1. About the Thing and the Thing Itself ap-art-ment (Pop Up Art House) About the Thing had flaws, but no other show embraced the creative process more passionately. As ap-art-ment, Laura Boles Faw and Catherine Anne Fairbanks understand that thinking hard may not be pretty, but it sure can be beautiful.

Ap-art-ment's Pop Up Art House exhibit was the Danielle Kelly's favorite from 2011.

Ap-art-ment's Pop Up Art House exhibit was the Danielle Kelly's favorite from 2011.

2. 22nd Annual Juried Show (Contemporary Art Center) Diverse in medium, consistent in quality and impeccable in curatorial acumen, this was the CAC’s best Juried Show in a very long time.

3. Best Wishes, MK Guth (Cosmopolitan P3 Studio) By weaving small pieces of paper inscribed with visitors’ wishes into her long braids, Portland’s Guth lightened their proverbial load in an intimate, non-capitalistic and very un-casino exchange.

4. Control, Krystal Ramirez, (Gamma Gamma Gallery) The consistent curatorial coup that is Melanie Coffee’s tiny Gamma Gamma Gallery hit the ball out of the park with Ramirez’s beautifully voyeuristic black and white photos of a couple in and out of bed—hard to look at, impossible to look away.

5. In Other Words, Casey Weldon (Trifecta Gallery When is the sneaky nostalgia of Weldon’s illustrative, candy colored horror-show not good?

6. Those We Call Century Chad Brown (Government Center Rotunda) How do you maximize the epic drama of the Rotunda? Fill it with an exquisitely hand-crafted, 37-foot-tall replica of an agave plant.

7. It’s All a Blur Guillermo Gómez Peña, Dale Hoyt & Tony Labat (CAC) Thank you, CAC, for blowing our weary two-dimensional minds with three of the Bay Area’s most renowned new genres artists.

8. The Art of Pee-wee Herman (A Tribute) (Blackbird Studios) If you don’t love anything and everything Pee-wee, particularly as showcased by the fabulous Blackbird, then don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

9. New Paintings, John Musgrove (Brett Wesley Gallery) Lovely streetscapes that slowed down time and generously rewarded patient observation with a reflected California glow.

10. Sonic Trichromacy Daniel Steffey (5th Wall Gallery) Punctuated by a live performance featuring Steffey and Christina Stanley, 5th Wall blazed its way onto the scene with an exhibition of sound art that bravely dragged Las Vegas into the 20th (yes, I said 20th) century.



1. The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams (Utah Shakespeare Festival) It can be easy to dismiss this modern classic, but not this time. J.R. Sullivan’s production refused to let me out of its grip. And despite the material’s familiarity, Tom’s final monologue still caught me unawares, leaving me gasping and weeping. A powerful reminder of how live performance transforms—and heightens—everything.

2. Ba-Ta-Clan, Jacques Offenbach (adapted by Skip Galla for Sin City Opera) High concept, low comedy, beautiful singers—a complete delight.

Sin CIty Opera's Ba-Ta-Clan placed second on Jacob Coakley's 2011 theater list.

3. Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, Jennifer Haley, (Las Vegas Little Theatre) Director Troy Heard wanted to get past the flash of video games to the horror of family anomie underneath. He did, and still managed to keep the buckets of blood.

4. Vegas Fringe Festival (Las Vegas Little Theatre) Wildly uneven, it still captured the anarchy and beauty to be had in a Fringe.

5. Legacy of the Tiger Mother, Angela Chan & Michael Manley (produced by Chan at Theatre 7) A (very) politically incorrect, astutely observed comedy about what it’s like to grow up musically gifted and matriarchally cursed.


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