Art

Lurking in our midst

Take time out to visit with Wegner’s Vdara wall work

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Solar burst: Artist Peter Wegner, sitting in front of his Vdara lobby wall work.
Photo: Sam Morris

Peter Wegner's "Day for Night, Night for Day" lives amid meandering tourists. No grand stage. No spacious, white-walled gallery, no focal point to ponder in a cavernous museum on a Saturday afternoon. Built into the concierge lobby in CityCenter's Vdara, the two pieces of abstract wall work, facing each other on opposing walls, are made from stacked and mounted paper, living almost like tapestries — unassuming among the furniture until someone notices the virility of the golden and pixilated sun, suspended in a red background on the west wall. On the east wall, a moon, a response — day for night, night for day.

Some 1.7 million sheets of postcard-size colored paper, stacked 45 feet high (solar) and 35 feet high (lunar), were used to create the work, which was installed using a cherry picker.

You'd normally see Wegner's work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, New York's Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art. Like CityCenter's art collection, "Day for Night, Night for Day" was brought to well-traversed corridors and meeting areas. The commissioned piece plays off Las Vegas' 24-hour nature — "nice conceptual synch," as if the work was inevitable, Wegner says while in town to photograph the piece. He likes the idea of bringing art to public spaces, of meeting the public "on their own turf." His "Lever Labyrinth," a maze-like installation made of 2.2 million sheets of predominantly green, stacked paper, was installed in the lobby of the Lever House, on New York City's Park Avenue, looking much like manicured yard hedges

The stacked paper works are intuitive. The artist might create a sketch or two, but mostly he's building a small maquette working with color paper, followed by a larger maquette. Its colors are then mapped to build a larger piece. What goes unnoticed in "Day for Night": The work is more of a sculpture, of which the viewer is seeing only one plane (made from a normally unconsidered plane of a simple sheet of paper). "It's kind of paradoxical," Wegner says. "You think a sheet of paper has this two-dimensional plane. But there is a third plane, the edge."

That use of the normally disregarded third plane is indicative of Wegner's approach to art. The Berkeley resident pays great attention to ambiguities and what is often unseen. In some works, he'll repurpose objects, as with an abstract assembling of circular cuts of a topographical map for a wall-sized work whose title translates from Latin to refer to land that is unknown. And he'll create something from absence: "Buildings Made of Sky," a series of inkjet prints, features photographs of building shapes created by inverting photos of skyscrapers, so that the negative space becomes the new structure.

Though different in form, the works all have what Wegner refers to as the same "philosophical armature." In each, Wegner gives us something new to consider.

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