‘12 Inches’ and more: Sin City gallery kicks off a three-month celebration of provocative art

JP Rakehorn at Sin City Gallery

We’re not allowing photos in the VIP area,” says Sin City Gallery owner Laura Henkel. “I think that says it all.”

She’s referring to Party in the Afterglow, a burlesque-drag-fetish soirée celebrating the ​fourth 12 Inches of Sin show, which features provocative contemporary art from around the world. ​The juried show opens in June (with a sneak peek at Party in the Afterglow), but three months of festivities surrounding 12 Inches kick off this week with Rub, Sweat & Smears, an exhibition by JP Rakehorn, who won best in show in 2014​. The London-based artist’s ​mixed-media works depict “sexually based,” photorealistic sketches on brown paper.​ In one drawing, anonymous male hands puppeteer ropes that bind a nude woman; in another, a man models thigh-high latex boots.

This year​​, the show’s top honor went to American artist Raymond Elstad for “Box Grid,” a black-and-white digital photograph of a model in various states of undress contorting into nine poses.

Sticking to the show’s number theme, 12 judges narrow down submissions to 12, and another dozen judges choose the best in show. “I don’t get a say so of who wins,” Henkel says, though she does choose 30 to 40 passed-over works and ​will display them ​a​s La Salon Des Refusés Du Péché ​at Sin City in July.

Since the show’s inaugural year, which drew 40 submissions from five countries, 12 Inches of Sin (tagline: “So much art you can barely fit it in”) has grown to net 300 submissions from 20 countries, including conservative states such as Iran, Iraq, Slovakia, Slovenia and Indonesia. ​

​​ “It’s a small community, especially for this genre,” Henkel says of the international interest. “So word gets around fast.”

Rub, Sweat & Smears, Through May 31; call for hours. Sin City Gallery inside the Arts Factory, 702-608-2461.

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