Best of 2012: Arts News and Art Exhibits

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts’ all-star, opening-night show in Reynolds Hall on Saturday, March 10, 2012.
Photo: Erik Kabik and Cassi Thomas/

Arts News

Historic landmark signs are displayed at the Neon Museum's Boneyard.

1. The Smith Center opens. After years of fundraising, planning and designing, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts gives the community a home for the arts—and places cultural Las Vegas in the national spotlight.

2. The Neon Boneyard goes public. After years of operating behind closed doors—rescuing signs and offering private tours—the Neon Museum opens for daily business.

3. The Las Vegas Art Museum returns. More than three years after closing its doors, the LVAM finds a new home at UNLV’s Barrick Museum, opening with an exhibit of its permanent collection.

Works by James Gobel, Victoria Reynolds and Sush Machida at the Barrick Museum as part of the Las Vegas Art Museum collection.

4. Conductor David Itkin leaves the Las Vegas Philharmonic. He joined the Phil in 2007, turning the orchestra into a well-oiled machine for its arrival at the Smith Center.

5.The Percent for the Arts Program gets approved. Clark County commissioners approve a plan to allocate money for an art fund—financed through room and property taxes.

6.The Mob Museum opens. The new Downtown attraction offers a history lesson threaded by organized crime.

7.Art Square arrives. The multi-use venue opens in the Arts District, offering space for creative businesses, along with an intimate home for Cockroach Theatre.

8. Andy Warhol cometh. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art teams with the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to create its upcoming exhibit, Warhol Out West, opening February 8.

Art Square in the Arts District.

9. The Vegas Vernacular Project begins. Photographers—most of them volunteers—start documenting cherished and disappearing signage, creating an archive for future generations.

10. Studios hit Downtown. Clay Arts Las Vegas and Open Air Printers open in the Arts District, offering community workshops along with professional services.

Art Exhibits

London Biennale in Nevada

With so many artists living, visiting and exhibiting in Las Vegas, it’s nearly impossible to nail down the best shows without missing something. Here, in no particular order, are five of the most outstanding exhibits of the last year.

London Biennale Nevada 2012, multiple artists (Pop Up Art House) Las Vegas has dabbled in performance art over the years, but nothing on the scale of this event coordinated by Jevijoe Vitug as a satellite to the London Biennial.

Tangents reframes auto collisions dimensionally and digitally.

Untitled (Bedroom), Leor Grady (Cosmo’s P3 Studio) Using familiar comfort materials (mostly bedding), this Israeli-born artist living in New York City used P3 for a performance/installation to address ideas of home, personal space and identity.

Defeat the Future, multiple artists (Contemporary Arts Center) Artist Yo Fukui curated this stunning show of works by New York City artists contending with an imaginary monster known as the future, featuring sculpture, performance, photography and painting.

Amanda Harris Gallery inside Soho Lofts in downtown Las Vegas on Friday, June 22, 2012.

Painting to the End of the Night, Wess Dahl-Berg (Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art) Harris introduced Las Vegas residents to the brilliantly layered paintings of Wess Dahl-Berg, which ranged from rich, abstract grids to intensely beautiful oil paintings of the desert at night.

Tangents, Fred Mitchell (Fifth Wall Gallery) Mitchell took photography to a sculptural level by deconstructing and rebuilding auto accidents digitally and three-dimensionally.

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