A&E

Could a new Downtown art space also help save troubled Huntridge Circle Park?

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Las Vegas tends to destroy its landmarks the moment they go out of style. But every now and then, we repurpose our old, dilapidated buildings to a better use: A former Downtown medical center becomes creative hub Emergency Arts, or a former Carl’s Jr. across from UNLV is remade as student art studios.

Now, a former Save-A-Lot grocery at the Huntridge Shopping Center could be remade as an interactive art space dubbed the “Time Machine.”

The brainchild of creative partners Robin Barcus Slonina, Sean Michael Pasinsky and Sarah Kate Larsen with business partner and developer J Dapper, the Time Machine will be an art “wonderland” comprising mostly local artists. In a City Council meeting last month, the partners also proposed a new use for the currently closed Huntridge Circle Park. As a satellite to the Time Machine, the park would be repurposed as both a sculpture garden and a children’s park.

Dapper says the project came together serendipitously when Save-A-Lot pulled out of Nevada and California two years ago, leaving a vacant space in his Charleston strip mall (anchored by the Huntridge Tavern, Wing Stop and Savers). “All of a sudden one day I got a call from [real estate agent] Downtown Steve [Franklin] saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got some friends who want to do this art experience, would you be willing to meet with them?’ I said yes, and that’s how it all started.”

While the area could certainly use another grocery store—outcries for a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods populated social media when Save-A-Lot closed two years ago—Dapper said he attempted to bring a number of grocery chains into the space, but none were interested. He’s funding the buildout of Time Machine, and assisting in a fundraising campaign for the park renovation.

Dapper is hopeful the sculpture garden will transform the neighborhood. “When you change the use of the park into something that’s an interactive art experience, you have artists that are spending lots of time and money to put these art exhibits together,” he says. Artists Joel Spencer and Nova May will work as project directors, with the goal of bringing in artists to fill the indoor and outdoor spaces. To combat the vandalism and crime that has plagued the park for years, Dapper says security and volunteers will keep the grounds safe and clean.

According to a memorandum of understanding agreement, the city and the Time Machine partners will continue to meet over the next six months to discuss and research logistics of the project, after which the city will vote whether or not to approve the project. “If it’s approved,” Dapper says, “we start building out the Time Machine space at the shopping center and simultaneously at the park.”

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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