[Life Is Beautiful 2014]

What’s with the giant slides? Artists take over Western Hotel at Life Is Beautiful

Artist Eric Tillinghast of Los Angeles poses by inflatable pools that will be part of his water slide installation at the Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.
Photo: Steve Marcus

When visual artists were given their choice of spaces at Downtown’s Western Hotel for Life Is Beautiful, LA artist Eric Tillinghast went straight for the roof—giant pool slides in tow.

Transforming the building into a water installation of sorts, he’s mounting five slides atop the hotel, each one pouring water off the side of the building into inflatable pools below. Containing water lines, a pump system, submersible LED lights and sod, “Freefall” is a vertical move from Tillinghast’s courtyard water installation (a 30-by-60-foot reservoir) last year at the Odyssey, also a water-based response to the folly of Las Vegas.

Water slides are shown by the side of the Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. The slides will be part of an art installation by Eric Tillinghast during the Life is Beautiful festival.

Inside the Western, artists have taken over nooks and crannies of the empty casino (the hotel closed in 2012), which serves as the home of LIB’s art component—curated by Patrick Duffy—and the Speaker Series. The latter takes place in the center of the empty casino, surrounded by removable soundproof walls. Duffy says many artists are responding to the space itself. Jerry Misko is taking over the bar, and Zak Ostrowski’s installation will extend out to the building’s portico. Like Tillinghast, some are incorporating the Western into their work.

This year’s artists were selected based on their proposals completing the phrase, “Life is ….” Much of the lineup includes names that exhibited last year, including Vast Space Projects and Trifecta Gallery. In addition to Tillinghast, Misko and Ostrowski, individual artists exhibiting include Linda Alterwitz, Audrey Barcio, Jevijoe Vitug, JK Russ, Matthew Couper, Gina Quaranto, Camilla Quinn Oldenkamp, Miguel Rodriguez, Jesse Smigel and students from Las Vegas Academy.

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