In This Must Be the Place at Brett Wesley Gallery, photographer Geoffrey Ellis creates a narrative inspired by ’70s and ’80s Las Vegas, when the Mob was losing its grip, paving the way for a corporate-run era that would change the landscape.
Avoiding overt nostalgia, Ellis shoots present-day artifacts, many in situ, portraying shifting power and transformation, and capturing the opulence and grit of a Las Vegas in a reality-meets-fantasy storyline—or as Ellis explains, a fantasy land within a fantasy land.
A $100 bill beach towel catches fire in the gnarly bottom of an old pool. A bulky surveillance camera is overtly affixed to a cracked casino ceiling painted hunter green. In an otherwise empty parking lot, a Cadillac sits broken down with the ground repaved around it. Girlie playing cards are caught in a mid-air toss. It’s a fictional compilation of poet honesty captured in old-school cinematic tones. Whether shot on the street, in the studio or in shuttered hotels, This Must Be the Place captures the dichotomy of power and the unattainable, textured with the sexuality and desperation tied to the city.
Ellis, who earned his MFA in photography from the University of Hartford Art School and splits his time between Las Vegas and San Francisco, is co-founder of the Vegas Vernacular Project and founder of the Las Vegas Camera Club. More recently, he captured the essence of the Western Hotel in images framed and hung on the wall of the building during Life Is Beautiful as part of the festival’s Art Tales exhibit.
This Must Be The Place Through November 29; Wednesday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Brett Wesley Gallery, 702-433-4433. Artist reception November 6, 6-9 p.m.