Biblical temptresses in neon: San Francisco-based Whitney Lynn looks at Las Vegas in the larger context of time

Neon Museum artist in residence Whitney Lynn, at a studio in Las Vegas, Nev. on June 26, 2016.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

A look at work by Neon Museum artist in residence Whitney Lynn, at a studio in Las Vegas, Nev. on June 26, 2016.

In a Downtown studio, San Francisco artist Whitney Lynn has created a wall of Biblical narratives from old masterworks, telling stories of femme fatales in neon-style line drawings. The fluid, brightly colored lines in oil pastel on drawing paper ring a familiar note even out of context with their originals (Michelangelo, Cezanne and others). Simplified, they live in the vernacular of Vegas Vic and the Hacienda’s Horse and Rider.

Lynn, the Neon Museum’s first national artist in residence (who also teaches at Stanford University), spent the past month here, finding rich resources on Fremont Street, in the museum’s collection and archives and through skilled fabricators who’ve built this city. Avoiding clichés, the series bridges women as temptresses in the contexts of both history and this Vegas playground. Playing with illusion and fantasy, another collection forces viewers to see its geometric configurations how they want—or how they think they see them. A stack of bricks, painted with artificial gold leaf, further cements the idea of fantasy. And the small neon sign of a half-empty (or half-full) drinking cup has us weighing the ideas—deeper reflection through an immediate message.

Her open house June 30 offers a look at what’s transpired through the experience, a residency funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nevada Arts Council.. “As far as visual spectacle, there is no place like Las Vegas,” Lynn says. “This is the city of fabrication. I love being around people with skills I don’t have. It’s really rich with resources.”

Artist Whitney Lynn

Lynn was a great choice for the museum’s national artist-in-residence program, designed to introduce new perspectives, opportunities and dialogue, says Rob McCoy, the museum’s CEO: “Her interest in and past work with vernacular art forms—everything from signage to street performance to fishing lures—made the Neon Museum’s residency opportunity appealing.”

Whitney Lynn 418 W. Mesquite Ave., July 30, 6- 8 p.m., Free.

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