Fine Art

Tim Bavington becomes first visual artist in UNLV’s Entertainer/Artist Hall of Fame

Tim Bavington’s Symphony Park sculpture serves as a gateway to the Smith Center.
Photo: Bill Hughes

For the first time in its 11 years, UNLV's College of Fine Arts inducted a visual artist to its Nevada Entertainer/Artist Hall of Fame, awarding Tim Bavington the "Sidney" for his contribution to arts in Las Vegas.

Bavington is known for his striped paintings that match color to music tones. His works are in several museum collections throughout the U.S., including New York's Museum of Modern Art.

His sculpture "Pipe Dream" anchors one end of the Smith Center's Symphony Park and is based on American composer Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." A commissioned painting by Bavington also hangs in the Smith Center's Reynolds Hall.

This 80-foot long sculpture outside the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is artist Tim Bavington's vision of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."

This 80-foot long sculpture outside the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is artist Tim Bavington's vision of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."

The award, named for Academy Award-winning director George Sidney, honors residents, past and present, who've made an impact on the arts (including architecture, visual and performing arts) in the community. It was presented Thursday evening at the 11th annual Hall of Fame ceremony in the campus Student Union ballroom, with Sidney awards also going to entertainer Sue Kim and posthumously to jazz vocalist Joe Williams.

"We very proud to have you in Las Vegas," UNLV Dean Jeffrey Koep said to Bavington at the dinner where UNLV's Joe Williams Every Day Foundation Scholarship Jazz Sextet performed, as did baritone Xavier Brown with UNLV Opera Theater.

"My dad was a big jazz fan. He took me see Joe Williams perform. I'm honored to be inducted along with Joe Williams," said Bavington. The artist, who earned his Master of Fine Arts from UNLV in 1999, studying with art critic and then UNLV professor Dave Hickey, who brought him to the program, said, "I wouldn't be here if not for Dave Hickey."

The artist also recognized his father, to whom he dedicated "Pipe Dream," adding that his father was a car dealer who worked for Fletcher Jones and originally brought him to Las Vegas. Humorously, Bavington said that he may have even been conceived here, telling a story about his parents eloping in the 1960s and driving across country to Las Vegas, where they spent his mom's 21st birthday at a motel with a bed that had a 25-cent "magic fingers" machine, adding, "I was born 37 weeks later."

Roger Thomas, art collector and executive vice president of design for Wynn Design and Development, introduced Bavington, referring to him as "the most recognized influential artist in our city's history," whose creative approach to color and sound has captivated people across the globe.

Adding Thomas, "It was a good year for Las Vegas when Tim Bavington arrived in our fair city."

Thirty-six others have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, including Tony Curtis, Frederic Apcar, Phyllis McGuire, Clint Holmes, Nancy Houssels, the Killers, Wayne Newton, Robert Goulet, Bernice Fischer, Liberace and Roger Thomas.

Sue Kim was a member of the South Korean trio the Kim Sisters, who came to the U.S. and performed on stages and on television in the 1950s and '60s, including lengthy gigs in Las Vegas, where Sue Kim lives. Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Joe Williams, who sang with the Count Basie Orchestra among other groups before performing solo, has a long history with Las Vegas. His widow, Jillean, accepted the award for him.

The Killers' drummer Ronnie Vannucci, who graduated from UNLV in 2011, was named Alumnus of the Year. Patron and arts advocate June T. Brennan, who serves on the College of Fine Arts advisory board, received the 2014 Dean's Medal.

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