Fine Art

Dive into the surrealism and surprises of Life Is Beautiful’s art program

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Lithuanian artist Egle Zvirblyte’s mural is on 7th Street, across from the El Cortez.
Photo: Miranda Alam / Special to the Weekly

Life Is Beautiful is a meeting of street, lowbrow and playa art that’s pretty much without peer. It’s not the craziest idea to visit the festival just to see the art, and this year there’s more of it than ever.

Begin, as always, with the murals and large-scale installations. Once again, Charlotte Dutoit of the Justkids collective has assembled a terrific international crew to paint up our Downtown walls: France’s André Saraiva, Lithuania’s Egle Zvirblyte, Spain’s Sebastián Velasco, Romania’s Saddo, Lakwena from the U.K. and the U.S.’s own Aware and Retna. Portugal’s Bordalo II—creator of the metal meerkat sculptures at 8th and Fremont Streets—will take over the entire Art Motel space with a piece called “Wild Wild Waste,” his biggest to date. If you’re impatient for the 2019 opening of the AREA 15 art and entertainment complex, fear not; they’re sending “Shogyo Mujo,” a 12-foot-tall skull sculpted by Joshua Harker and projection-mapped by BARTKRESA, to keep you company. Tyler FuQua is building a robot for the fest; Playmodes Studio is creating a light vortex in an alley; Christopher Schardt is delivering a giant LED installation; and a quartet of technicians will finally answer the question, “What would happen if you lit a Skee-Ball lane on fire?”

Meanwhile, over at the Western Hotel, Crime on Canvas—a massive, must-see pop surrealist group show, curated by Jay Nailor and MiShell Modern of Palm Springs’ M Modern Gallery—brings another stealthy line of headliners: works by Mark Ryden, Tara McPherson, Brandon Boyd, Paul Frank, Gary Baseman, Norman Reedus—yes, that Norman Reedus—and others. Plus, some of the artists themselves are scheduled to show up; keep looking in at the Western from time to time if you’d like a nice surprise. That’s not half-bad advice for the festival at large: Keep searching for all the visual gifts LIB has tucked away.

Life is Beautiful September 21-23, gates open at 2 p.m., $135/day (Friday & Saturday sold out), $655 3-day VIP (3-day GA sold out).Downtown Las Vegas, lifeisbeautiful.com.

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