The Las Vegas Art Museum’s collection comes back ‘Into the Light’

Michael Reafsnyder at the Barrick Museum as part of the Las Vegas Art Museum Collection.

So there it was. Amid the single-serving shrimp cocktails, bite-sized quiche, wine, hugs, polite conversations, photo-ops, artists, writers, gallerists and well-heeled art collectors, lived the one single truth: We’ve been given another chance.

Marjorie Barrick Museum

Through careful negotiation, more than a year of planning and a major revamping of UNLV’s Barrick Museum, the partnership between the Las Vegas Art Museum and the university’s College of Fine Arts came to fruition Tuesday night at the reception for Into the Light, featuring a large chunk of the Las Vegas Art Museum’s permanent collection.

The Details

Into the Light
Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, noon-5 p.m.; free.
Barrick Museum, 895-3381.

Out of storage and back in the public eye. Call it a heritage collection of sorts—not a comprehensive survey of every artist who’s worked in Southern Nevada but a hearty sampling of those who have come and gone or continue to make Las Vegas their home. These are their voices. Among them: Sush Machida, Thomas Burke, David Ryan, Stephen Hendee, Bradley Corman, James Gobel, Chad Brown, Shawn Hummel, Yek, James Hough, Robert Beckmann and more. Lots more.

Add to that work from past LVAM exhibitions, including pieces by Martin Mull, Phyllis Sloane (going back to the old James Mann days), Cynthia Wright and Michael Reafsnyder. Then here is a nod to the museum’s history: the first two paintings (by artist Mary Cody Johnson) that were donated to the museum in the 1950s when it was a painters society in Lorenzi Park.

Pulling together the collection are works donated to LVAM by its board president, Patrick Duffy, and the late Wally Goodman. (You can thank them for dozens of donated pieces, including a large Matthew Radford grid painting from his ongoing crowd series and John Clem Clarke’s acrylic on canvas “Venus and the Guitar Player.”)

The museum closed in 2009, leaving most of the works behind closed doors. Critics can argue that this partnership falls well short of LVAM having a new facility of its own, that they don’t want to plug the meters to park or that they abhor contemporary art and trekking across a university campus. In fact, those sentiments would fit well with past complaints that LVAM was physically disconnected from the community at its former location adjacent to a library on West Sahara Avenue.

They’d also complement the fact that we grumbled about (or completely ignored) experiencing works by Franz Marc, Max Beckmann, Picasso, Monet, Manet and Robert Mapplethorpe while they were housed in a small Guggenheim satellite museum off the casino floor inside the Venetian. But the rest of us can just enjoy the art collection presented to the community, knowing that with the right kind of support, it will grow.

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