As We See It

A pair of art exhibits explore a city in foreclosure crisis

Photo: Sam Morris

The pathway to our community's economic and foreclosure hell is easily traceable. Its magnitude, however, is more difficult to grasp.

Two artists set out independently to grapple with these larger-than-anything-that-has-ever-hit-our-community issues in consecutive solo exhibits at the Contemporary Art Center, which culminated in a community panel discussion September 9. The shows offended, jarred, confirmed and, for some, offered insight beyond the numbers.

Erin Stellmon's Reign of Glass took on the grandiose idea of CityCenter, its hype and reality contrasting with our real communities, while portraying our transformation past, present and future.

America's No. 1 Foreclosed City: Las Vegas represented what being No. 1 in foreclosures actually looks like through a 22-hour-plus video featuring one-second images of every foreclosed Valley home in 2009 and a life-size graphite rubbing of a foreclosed home.

While Reign, a phenomenon portrayed in craft-like materials, was more inviting, its commentary on growth and depiction of windows blowing out of CityCenter (construction and impending implosion), stunned some.


America's #1 Foreclosed City: Las Vegas at the CAC
Through Sept. 18
Tuesday-Saturday noon-5 p.m.

Downtown Steve, a Realtor and CAC board member originally dismissed Foreclosed, a reality he says he lives everyday, but ventured in and ultimately appreciated the way it "brought home" the magnitude of the crisis.

Las Vegan Sander Williams was offended when he stumbled upon it at First Friday: "What got me was the rubbing. She went on the property. I thought, 'Okay, that's enough. Someone is finally out of there so you can make art out of this now?'"

That changed after he digested the show, then spoke with the artists and panelist Robert Dorgan, a UNLV associate professor of and director of the Downtown Design Studio. Now, Williams values the testimonial of foreclosures: "I try to explain this to relatives in other parts of the country and they just don't understand."

Had they seen this, he said, maybe they would.

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Kristen Peterson

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Previous Discussion:

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  • “Compared to my Ohio life, people are more positive here, more responsive to literary things.”

  • “We break down all the barriers that led them to become homeless, so they can become self-sufficient and sustain on their own.”

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