Las Vegans are tired of hearing that their home doesn’t have culture, especially since artistic gems can be found all over the city. From James Turrell’s interactive light wonder “Akhob” inside Louis Vuitton at Crystals to the newly opened infinity room by famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama at the Bellagio to the impeccable design of various Strip hotels and restaurants, there are world-class works of art and inspiration nearly everywhere you look.
Luxury French perfumery Diptyque opened its first Las Vegas store at the Wynn Plaza Shops last week, featuring a permanent installation by French textile artist Janaïna Milheiro. Her piece, comprising thousands of hand-cut yellow turkey, goose and iridescent acrylic faux-feathers, is an interpretation of Diptyque’s “olfactory landscape” and a nod to Las Vegas’ feather-adorned history.
Born in Brazil and raised in Paris, Milheiro graduated from art school in Paris before landing her first high couture role making geometric feather beadings for Armani in 2014. “I started working with feathers, really, with my instinct,” Milheiro says, “and using those textile techniques such as weaving and lace and reinterpreting the technique of textiles.” Her luxury résumé has since taken off: She has worked with Chanel, Valentino and Hermès, to name a few, and she also works with contemporary retailers like Lululemon and has created feathered wings for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show for the past three years.
Her installation inside Diptyque took more than 500 hours to complete and is a continuation of her instinctual, ethereal aesthetic. Unlike her previous works, however, this one’s permanent. “It’s really an artwork in the sense that it’s meant to stay,” she says. “It’s not a window display; it’s not a decoration for Christmas. So I’m really happy and proud of this.”
Other art installations of various magnitudes reside all over the city, including this year’s Wynn Plaza addition, the 16-foot-tall “Smiling King Bear” by Spanish contemporary artist Okuda San Miguel. Then there’s VEGAS (2009), a commissioned piece by the notable Jenny Holzer for Aria’s parking lot and valet, which displays a number of her famous “truisms” for onlookers as they wait; and “Pipe Dream” by Tim Bavington at the Smith Center’s Symphony Park. Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s flashlight at UNLV and Dale Chihuly’s $40 million Fiori di Como glass sculpture at Bellagio have long been mainstays along Las Vegas’ art landscape.
And those are just the big names. Look deeper, and you’ll find painted Zap! boxes all over town and work from Vegas’ own Justin Favela inside PublicUs (a giant plate of steak and eggs done in his signature piñata style hangs inside the restaurant). Jesse Smigel’s giant cat head “Snowball” is just one of Downtown’s artful Easter eggs; Miguel Rodriguez’ psychedelic jaguar head protects Winchester Cultural Center; and the recent “Radial Symmetry” by Luis Varela-Rico pays tribute to the Paiute tribe.
That’s a lot of public art for a place said to be lacking in culture. Next time you hear someone say those ill-informed words, invite them to do some exploring. Start in the perfumeries.