Downtown’s First Street Art Trail is coming to life

A kitten sculpture by Las Vegas artist Jesse Smigel is shown at the corner of First Street and Coolidge Avenue in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014.
Photo: Steve Marcus

With the city dedicating the beginnings of Downtown’s First Street Art Trail this week and simultaneously readying to release a national call to artists for a project on Main Street, the Arts District—an area once thought of as the hub of Downtown activity and revitalization—is getting a little attention, even as the gallery scene is slowing.

While not exactly public sculpture, the enhancements intended to designate the Arts District will include artist-designed benches along Main Street as part of a larger $13.9 million improvement project, along with a geocaching effort to activate the First Street Art Trail. Titled Vegas Jackpot Art Cache, in partnership with Goldwell Printers, the geocache project had artists Suzanne Hackett-Morgan, Elizabeth Blau Ogilvie and Lisa Fields Clark—along with the city’s graphic art and design team—design stamps that will be placed along the trail for seekers to find. Coordinates and clues are provided online at and

In addition to Jesse Carson Smigel’s “Snowball in Vegas” cat head sculpture, already installed at First and Coolidge, the only artwork on the Trail is a temporary art installation by Audrey Barcio and Rebecca Pugh in the windows of City Hall. But Nancy Deaner, manager of the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, says the city plans to add more. Part of the dedication includes a nod to the “Cycled Musings” bike racks inscribed by artist Mary Hill with quotations.

The next project underway will bring artist-designed benches to line Main Street, with the call to artists going out in the next week and artists selected for the first 15 of 35 planned benches by the end of this year.

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Kristen Peterson

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