In 2004, MGM Mirage announced that it would build a city, a fabulous city, created from scratch and erected right on the Strip. People would live there, hang out, take walks. It would be an instant community with all the amenities of an urban environment.
World-famous architects designed its buildings, sleek and elegant structures that could be anywhere in the world and eschew Las Vegas gimmickry. As the country's largest privately funded construction project changed our humble skyline, it promised jobs and hope.
Artist Erin Stellmon saw the immensity of the distant cranes and construction from her porch and took note of the weird dichotomy of this massive and magical pop-up city being built as people in the real city lost their homes to foreclosure.
In Reign of Glass, opening June 3 at Contemporary Arts Center, Stellmon explores and dissects the various ideas, concepts and questions of CityCenter through a mixed-medium installation that contemplates home, community, greed and economy.
"I thought about, 'What does it mean to build a city?'" Stellmon says. "Cities are organic, built over time of generations and memories, not just constructing with building blocks, but building blocks of people's lives."
Stellmon has worked in various mediums, contemplating place and transformation (particularly in Las Vegas); Reign of Glass might be her most ambitious endeavor. Though a solo exhibit, she invited other artists and community members to draw memories of Las Vegas for the segment, "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now," which includes more than 90 drawings on a wall near CityCenter's timeline.
It's her attempt to break down the massive concept into smaller pieces in the hopes of inspiring conversation: "It's a way of talking about what really builds a city, what visitors take away and the memories of people who grow up here. How reality and ridiculousness play off each other."
While Stellmon examines the monumental, seen by everyone, artist David Sanchez Burr examines the changes in time and space we don't always see.
Across the street at Brett Wesley Gallery, Sanchez Burr and Craig Colorusso present Time-Remap Sessions, a two-day video/audio installation that delves into the metamorphosis of decay, inspired by refuse abandoned in an area just outside Las Vegas.
The project continues Sanchez Burr's interest in time-based art and perpetual change, often through the unseen process of deteriorating material and its natural reconstruction. Time-Remap Sessions are 11 videos shot in an aquarium that emulate the environment, its dust storms and decay, in slow-moving, hypnotic and fluid imagery that evokes the visceral world of change in time. Things fall apart in front of us, moving like gaseous matter in space in continuously looping videos played simultaneously on five projection screens to audio composed by Colorusso, with whom Sanchez Burr has collaborated since the mid-1990s. The audio was written and performed for each video and also intended to be played in unison. A live sound performance takes place June 4 at 7:30 p.m.