Contemporary Arts Center kicks off book club with Dave Hickey’s ‘Pirates and Farmers’

Back in spirit: Former local Dave Hickey’s words will spark discussion at the Writer’s Block.

After a near dismantling last spring, a reforming of its board and a little bit of soul searching, the Contemporary Arts Center of Las Vegas has been making baby steps back into the arts scene through film screenings, a pop-up exhibit and now a book club that launches at Downtown’s Writer’s Block with a book by one of the city’s most notable former residents.

On March 14, the nonprofit organization will lead a discussion of Dave Hickey’s Pirates and Farmers, a collection of magazine essays written by the art and culture critic, including two published in Las Vegas Weekly.

Published by Ridinghouse in October shortly after Hickey (now residing in New Mexico) made headlines by saying he was retiring, the book includes what Hickey referred to as “fugitive essays,” including pieces that had been published in Art in America as columns that Hickey restored to “their original crankiness.” Mixing personal stories (including those on being an art critic) with essays on artists, Ghanaian movie posters and whorehouse photography, Pirates is a hilarious read on taste.

For the CAC, the book club follows last year’s screenings of PBS’ Art21 documentaries at the Scullery and a screening of The Space Between followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and the founder of the Kenyan hospice featured in the documentary. More recently, it partnered with the Barrick Museum to present Levitated Mass. Its 26th annual juried show opens in April at Alios.

So why the book club? “The CAC is focused on presenting multiple opportunities for people to be educated about art. Some people are visual learners. Others enjoy reading. We wanted to appeal to the broadest audience,” says Melissa Petersen, CAC board president. “Dave Hickey is an interesting voice in contemporary art and has a hometown connection.”

CAC Book Club March 14, 2 p.m. The Writer's Block, 1020 Fremont St., 702-550-6399.

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