Las Vegas turns neighborhood blight into a thing of beauty


The city of Las Vegas’ new program to counter neighborhood blight with art was unveiled this month with the installation of a painting by artist Markus Tracy onto an abandoned home near Charleston Boulevard and Pecos Road.

The contemporary, desert-themed landscape (highlighting area flora and fauna in bold shapes and colors) is the beginning of Councilman Bob Coffin’s effort to use art to change the aesthetics and spirit of a residential area. Tracy was commissioned to create multiple paintings on plywood that will board up the windows and doors of 10 abandoned Las Vegas houses.

Though the initiative won’t follow the path of the nationally renowned Heidelberg Project—a grassroots movement in Detroit that began in 1986 with Tyree Guyton painting colorful dots onto neglected homes—it definitely creates an outdoor gallery of sorts using art as a message to the community.

Tracy is a Las Vegas-based artist who focuses on murals that reflect a community’s diversity and its stories as a way to revitalize neighborhoods throughout the country, often working on projects side by side with residents.

In this new project, his colorful paintings on plywood will replace the usual boarding of homes by the city Code Enforcement.

The city says the $16,550 pilot project, funded by the city and its Arts Commission, could be just the beginning of an art-related revitalization of run-down neighborhoods.

“This is the first time the city has done something like this,” says city spokesman Jace Radke. “Councilman Coffin has been working hard on this, and we’re hoping to grow it into other areas.”

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