Three art exhibits you’ve gotta check out this month

Sculpture by Yo Fukui
Photo: Kristen Peterson

Defeat the Future

We all must grapple with life’s agonizing promise of uncertainty and death. Fortunately there’s always art, willing to transcend reality and even toy with inevitability. That’s what makes Defeat the Future, at the Contemporary Arts Center, so much, dare we say, fun.

In it, five New York City artists contend with an imaginary monster, known as the future, using their own superhero powers, resulting in a multimedia fun house of really great art.

Curated by Yo Fukui, the show includes Fukui’s vividly decorated guardian, sculpted to protect him from the “monster” lurking behind (or in) his other works in the exhibit.

Chad Stayrook’s video, performance and sculpture piece, “An Event in Three Parts,” plays with the futile significance we attach to things. And Antonio Serna’s dinosaur paintings will have you wondering if they’re in the past or the future, while his multimedia installation, created in Romania under the name vizKult, deals with CIA “black sites” and past and future tensions in that region.

Then there are Naoko Wowsugi’s “Happy Birthday” photographs by college students she assigned to celebrate her birthday through performance and photography as a way to explore teacher/student boundaries, narcissism/vulnerability and the awkward concept of celebrating aging.

Richard A. Wager stays in the present after considering the dragon as a metaphor for internal struggle—a monster keeping you from living your life to the fullest. His works reflect daily rituals used to simplify his life (including wearing a uniform) so that he can focus on what’s most important.

As Fukui says about this visually exhilarating exhibit, “This show is like an amusement park—you have to walk around. It makes you feel like you’re in a dreamlike story.”

Through March 10; Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m.; free. Opening reception February 2, 6-8 p.m.

A portion of Mark Brandvik's 'The Green Felt Jungle Gym' installation. Can you guess what Strip property this one is supposed to represent?

The Green Felt Jungle Gym

Don’t let the fact that Mark Brandvik’s installation at the Clark County Government Center isn’t actually made from green felt keep you from stopping in to check out the oversized jungle gym built in the shape of hotel casinos—Stratosphere, Luxor, Wynn. Brandvik, an artist known for his minimal paintings of iconic Las Vegas architecture, plays off Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris’ 1963 book The Green Felt Jungle—a juicy read about our adult playground’s seedy underbelly during its Mob-run days. Gymnastic rings, a swing and a slide, placed in the skeletons of our still-standing Strip landmarks, conjure thoughts of the incomplete and abandoned projects dotting the landscape.

Through March 23; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. Artist reception February 3, 6-8 p.m.

The First Show

Artist David Sanchez Burr opens his new gallery, Multiplexer, this week inside Emergency Arts with the aptly titled exhibit, The First Show, featuring diverse approaches to the medium of video through the works of nine artists.

Ellen Lake’s “Call + Response” places ’30s- and ’40s-era home movies next to like scenes made by contemporary digital video to explore ideas of technology and time. Authority Office’s “Importance of Pen” uses a contemporary silent, black-and-white formula to depict the significant role of a writing tool in a town’s daily life. Lydia Moyer’s “Desert Solitaire” abstracts a Joshua tree in the desert to create mesmerizing forms and reflect desert solitude. And Sujin Lee creates a hand-drawn animation project, “Turtles Are Voiceless.”

Other artists featured: Anne Klint, Bruce Tomb, Rebecca Loyche, Sophia Bruekner and Tessa Garland.

Through February 28; Tuesday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.; free. First Friday opening February 3, 6 p.m.

Photo of Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson

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