On a spring evening in 2006, Las Vegas artist Catherine Borg and New York artist Amy Yoes took over the Peppermill Lounge with an installation, replacing music videos on the TV screens dotting the space with their own video filmed mostly inside the lounge and mixed with clips of exterior lights and architecture.
Amid the artificial plant life, mirrors and flame pool, the video on multiple screens essentially played to and of itself. Streaming in unison on large screens, it pierced a sense of infinity and motion. A synthesis of the kind of space Las Vegas creates, it fell in line with a long list of art by Borg working within the culture and community and experiences they create.
The artist, now living in Maryland, is one of many flowing in and out of Las Vegas in recent years whose work has been influential and whose connection lingers. It’s why she’s among more than 100 featured on a new website dedicated to contemporary art with ties to Las Vegas. Created by Las Vegas artist Wendy Kveck and launched last month, settlersandnomads.com provides a much-needed living, breathing, collective presence for serious work taking place here. More than a year in the making, it links to the bios and images of 28 artists living in Las Vegas—“settlers”—and includes a blog by artists writing about other artists and exhibits, as well as recurring entries noting Las Vegas art history, whether its early days of NICA, CAC and Allied Arts Council or the former Smallworks Gallery. Among the settlers are Shawn Hummel, Chris Bauder, Alisha Kerlin and Brent Sommerhauser. The blog also lists more than 80 other artists who have lived or worked here—“nomads”—connecting artists influenced by Las Vegas, whether or not their work speaks to it.
“The emphasis was on contemporary artists whose work I find really interesting, who are dedicated to their work,” says Kveck, who launched the site last month after extensive planning, research and dialogue with other artists. Essentially, it’s a portal to serious contemporary art in Las Vegas, an encyclopedic database and network connecting and reconnecting artists while linking to projects here, including James Turell’s “Akhob” at Luis Vuitton inside Crystals, Michael Heizer’s earthworks and the recent Zabludowicz Collection residencies.
Recent blog entries include Swiss-born artist Daniel Habegger, now a Las Vegas resident, writing about the work of artist Danielle Kelly, who recently relocated. Erin Stellmon, who also recently left, writes about the experience of moving to Las Vegas from New York and now settling into Maryland with images like themed mailboxes documenting the suburbs. Blog contributors will include Audrey Barcio and Andreana Donahue. Some artists might write about shows or works they’ve experienced in other cities, Kveck says.
Artist and writer D.K. Sole will co-edit the blog with Kveck, with Justin Favela handling social media.
Most of the nomads, Kveck says, have ties to UNLV as former BFA and MFA students, faculty and visiting artists (Kveck herself received an MFA in painting from UNLV in 2007): “All have glitter and dust on their boots and have been influenced or inspired in some way by this unique place we call home or pit stop, drawn to Las Vegas’ visual and cultural history and context and the surrounding southwestern landscape, Dave Hickey’s 'the bottom of the sky.' ”