Stretching the canvas: A new program places artists’ work on billboards

Melissa McGill’s work on a billboard in Las Vegas

The roofline of the La Concha Motel lobby juts into the evening sky, its parabolic arcs framing the sunset reflected in the windows below. The image of the shell-inspired structure at the Neon Museum, photographed by artist Jennifer Burkart in October 2014, now covers a billboard on I-15 facing south, greeting commuters and travelers heading into Las Vegas.

It’s one of five in the new ArtPop Street Gallery series placing work by Las Vegas artists on available billboards in town as a way to promote the arts. Las Vegas is among seven states featuring the program, launched by ArtPop founder Wendy Hickey of Charlotte, North Carolina, and brought to Southern Nevada by artist Dale Sprague, a former American Institute of Graphic Arts president. About 40 artists submitted works. In addition to Burkart, the Las Vegans selected are JK Russ, Diane Bush, Melissa McGill and Cheryl Hobbs, each working in different media and subject matter, but tapping into the area's landscapes and character, natural or fabricated

Hobbs’ graphic illustration captures the mountain and cacti in reductive forms. Russ’ “Desert City Birdlife Vista” (previously featured at Sin City Gallery) shows Strip wildlife combining the faux and natural with cultural landmarks. Bush’s macro photography elevates the intricacies and color bursts of sculptural collage. And McGill’s multimedia encaustic composition brings together pop elements, illustrations and found imagery in collage assemblages. The works will stay on the billboards for six months, and Sprague says the plan is to continue the project, a partnership between the Las Vegas chapter of the AIGA, Outfront Media, Clear Channel Media and the City of Las Vegas, next year.

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Kristen Peterson

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