First aid for the art scene

Emergency Art to bring “creative space” to Downtown’s entertainment district

Jennifer Harrington and fiance Michael Cornthwaite have plans to create a multi-use artist space in Downtown Las Vegas.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

The December 11 closing reception for Grayson Ronk’s exhibit at Henri & Odette might have been somber had it not been for news that gallery owner Jennifer Harrington has other plans for her contemporary-art space.

Harrington and fiancé Michael Cornthwaite, owner of the Downtown Cocktail Room, have leased the empty Fremont Medical Center at Sixth and Fremont, and intend to turn it into a multi-use artist space—home to studios, galleries and shops. Her own Henri & Odette—moving from its Sixth and Carson location—will be among them.

The project is called Emergency Art, and a January 14 open house will give prospective tenants a chance to explore its nooks and crannies. Harrington says space will be available for as little as $200 a month.

The building’s medical theme will remain intact. Artists and other potential tenants will be able to choose from exam rooms, doctors’ offices, nurses’ stations and X-ray rooms for their creative lair.

“We’re inviting people we really want,” Harrington says. “I hope to have this really vibrant creative space. We plan to open March 1, but the only way it will work is if we get people participating.”

Getting something to “work” in the local arts scene isn’t always so easy, and Harrington might be one of the first to detail her setbacks. She’s had two galleries and no foot traffic, forcing her to turn both of them into appointment-only spaces. She opened Henri & Odette in August 2008 with a coffee-shop atmosphere in mind—tables and chairs, magazines and sundries, even serving coffee—to draw visitors. Exhibit openings were well-attended; on other days, the gallery sat empty.

Harrington hopes Emergency Art’s location, in the Fremont East entertainment district across from Beauty Bar and the El Cortez, will help bring foot traffic to its galleries and studios.

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Previous Discussion:

  • The artist spent a year and a half building a life-size, hidden bunker inside his gallery.

  • Local writer/educator Erica Vital-Lazare and photojournalist Jeff Scheid are the artists behind the profiles and portraits.

  • The pieces are in markedly different styles, but they share a similar palette, which makes those four walls feel like all of a piece.

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