Fine Art

Neon unplugged: Artist Jerry Misko tones it down for ‘Swing’

Juice” is a piece by Jerry Misko in the exhibit Swing at the Nevada Humanities Gallery in ArtSquare Monday, April 7, 2014. L.E. Baskow
Photo: L.E. Baskow

Among many things, including his casual swagger, stylish suits and native Las Vegas persona, Jerry Misko is synonymous with neon, the hazy, glowing abstract and blurred renderings he paints onto canvas, spelling out phrases or capturing vintage Vegas iconography.

Jerry Misko Exhibit

So prevalent is neon in his work—in murals, homes and exhibits—that his current exhibit, Swing, at Nevada Humanities, might as well be subtitled “Misko Unplugged.” In it, the artist has swapped the glowing hues of neon and motion for the typography and design of old-school Las Vegas menus, handouts and painted signage to create small paintings (none larger than 12 by 12 inches).

The works are based on casino lingo and often loaded with double entendre that is met with menu design from the past. A menu from the Sultan’s Table inspired the design of “Stiff.” “Spread,” a maroon-and-gold painting with a Middle Eastern look, was based on a handout for a New Year’s Eve party at the Flamingo in 1972. Other terms include “come,” “toke” and the more magnificent “One-eyed chicken in the weeds.”

In Swing, Misko, who’s father is a pit boss, gives a warm homeboy nod to Las Vegas history with a more toned-down stroke. But he doesn’t completely ignore his trademark ways: The neon mascot for old Foxy’s Firehouse Casino is an edition print offered in the show.

Swing Through May 30; Monday-Thursday, 1-5 p.m. Nevada Humanities, Art Square, 800-4670.

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Kristen Peterson

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