A bikini-clad Olympic diver free falling (perfectly) from atop the Hoover Dam, and the old Stardust sign planted into the (actual) Venice landscape are images that fall into the category of things that don’t necessarily go together—as does a rendering of an atomic fiery mushroom cloud on Fremont Street. The “normalcy” surrounding the latter, an actual illustrated vintage postcard depicting atomic testing here, is the kind of head-scratcher that eventually drew Las Vegas artist Anthony Bondi to collage in the late 1980s.
Incongruence is plentiful in his Neon Metropolis at Sin City Gallery, which features a series of postcard-sized (and pre-Photoshop) collages Bondi created between 1989 and 2004. Seeing the Strip as a jumbled collage itself, Bondi became an incidental seer, particularly with that early-’90s piece placing the Stardust sign in Venice (long before the Venetian arrived on the Strip). At the time, the fan of postcards (a “native art form” here) was toying with Vegas as a sort of Venice in its “heyday,” when the Orient and Occidental met, creating a mix of the world’s architecture, albeit more fluid (and less Disney) than Las Vegas’.
The works in this series, which have never been shown together (or as originals), are sort of “translated postcards,” Bondi says.
From the Olympic diver in “Touchdown” to a Sir Lancelot type on a horse, riding toward a lion roaring at a tropical female dancer in “Three Adjacent Las Vegas Resorts,” Bondi turns cliché Vegas into elegant and thoughtful visual compositions with layers of depth.
Neon Metropolis,through December 23, Wednesday-Saturday, 1-7 p.m. Sin City Gallery, 107 E. Charleston Blvd. No. 100, 608-2461.