The Las Vegas Art Museum’s collection of contemporary works fell out of public view three years ago when the museum closed its doors.
The works are now being loaned to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and being hung in executive offices, corridors and conference rooms in advance of the center’s opening next month.
Some of the collection will make its way to UNLV, which has partnered with the museum to show the works in its galleries.
“The plan has always been to get the works out into the community for people to see,” says Patrick Duffy, board president of the Las Vegas Art Museum, who helped select the works with a Smith Center committee. Duffy said the board was approached by several institutions that wanted to acquire the collection, but said it needed to stay in the museum's ownership.
Las Vegas Art Museum’s collection includes nearly 200 pieces of art, more than 100 of them donated by Duffy and his longtime friend, the late Wally Goodman.
More than three dozen of the works are at the Smith Center. In addition to works by Hummel, Ryan and Bavington, the collection includes works by William T. Wiley, Yek, Angela Kallus, Matthew Radford, Sush Machida Gaikotsu and Sol Lewitt.
“These all just sing in this building,” art collector Roger Thomas said this week while the colorful, mostly minimal works were being set in their respective places. “This building is so good to art.”
Thomas, vice president of design for Wynn Design and Development, helped select the art and its placement in the Smith Center.
Thomas said the decision to use contemporary art in the building was based on wanting to use works by notable contemporary artists who studied at UNLV with Dave Hickey and are still working in Las Vegas. “Prime examples of these works became available from the LVAM collection graciously lent to the Smith Center,” he said.
The center also commissioned works from some of those artists, including Tim Bavington, Shawn Hummel and David Ryan. Victor Benjamin, a sculptor whose bronze winged victory, inspired by the sculptures by Oskar Hansen at Hoover Dam, was also commissioned and his work will be featured in the Reynolds Pavilion grand lobby.
A 1972 Roy Lichtenstein silk screen from LVAM’s collection will hang in the office of Myron Martin, president and CEO of the Smith Center. Also in Martin’s office is the model of the 80-foot-long Bavington sculpture, based on Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” being installed in Symphony Park.
Works by Sol Lewitt hang on a wall in off the lobby leading to the executive offices. A Ryan acrylic work hangs behind the reception desk and a Matthew Radford painting hangs on a wall in the lobby.
Hummel’s diptych hangs just outside of Martin’s office. Other works were placed in the Boman Pavilion conference rooms that will be used as meeting spaces for outside organizations.
In addition to Thomas and Duffy, art for the Smith Center was selected by Martin and Candy Schneider, Smith Center’s vice president of education and outreach. UNLV plans to host a teaser exhibit of collection from the Las Vegas Art Museum in the spring.