Las Vegas has caught the attention of artists and writers around the world for decades, those wanting to explore and study the unique environment and surrounding landscape. But this month's launch of an artist residency here by the international philanthropic Zabludowicz Collection has to be one of the more exciting developments in recent years.
Two creatives living and working in Berlin arrived this month—artist Daniel Keller and writer Ella Plevin, whose interest will be the Nevada desert, as well as the city. Following them will be U.K. artists David Raymond Conroy, who arrives November 18, and Eloise Hawser, who arrives November 24. Korakrit Arunanondchai, born in Thailand and based in New York City, will arrive December 4.
If the Zabludowicz name sounds familiar (aside from its art-world relevancy) it's because the family wanted to establish a privately funded museum in Downtown Las Vegas at 601 E. Fremont in 2009, but the city wasn't able to hold the property in time for them to invest the amount of $12 million, spokesman Jonathan Jossel said back then, adding that the Zabludowicz's interest in Las Vegas hasn't waned.
Poju Zabludowicz is director of the London-based Tamares Group, which owns several properties in the city, including the Plaza Hotel. He and his wife Anita have been collecting art since the mid-1990s, using the works philanthropically, and Tate Modern has two Anita Zabludowicz galleries on its fourth floor. Anita is also a trustee of the Tate Foundation.
"The main motivation for the residency is the nature of Las Vegas itself, and the fascination it holds for generations of artists, writers and thinkers, especially around ideas of architecture, entertainment, escapism and frontiers," says Paul Luckraft, curator of exhibitions for Zabludowicz Collection, adding that it "strongly supports emerging artists, and often those interested in how technology intersects with society. Las Vegas is of course rich terrain to consider these pressing questions, and over a number of years many artists have expressed an interest in visiting and getting to know the place first-hand, digging down beyond easy assumptions or clichés. Also, Vegas has a small but committed arts community, and we wanted to foster some dialogue between international practitioners and those based in the city."
Representatives have been working with local contact Melissa Petersen, CAC board president. The residencies are scheduled through December 9, with artists arriving at different times. Though the work they create will not be shown in Las Vegas, there will be a two-day symposium at the close of the residency for artists, curators, historians and critics to discuss the Las Vegas arts scene and possibilities for its evolution as a "cultural and creative center."
Read more about the project on the Zabludowicz site.