Fine Art

Putting the city-sense into CityCenter

Patrons walk into the lobby at Aria at CityCenter.
Photo: Leila Navidi

Edouard Manet’s 1863 painting “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe” was a game-changer in the art world, an entry into modernism that would jar the expectations of visual art.

Realism, as it was known, was dead, it stated.

That a billboard-size mural of that painting (known in English as “Luncheon on the Grass”) hangs in two pieces flanking the bar at Aria’s Sage restaurant in CityCenter, seems logical—not because CityCenter defies realism, but because it brings a new sense of realism to a city built on fantasy. Absent are trinkets, tricks and small-scale replications to convince tourists that they’re in a European capital. CityCenter’s fantasy is one of cavernous spaces and high-end design not seen elsewhere on the Strip. Its corridors, carpets, marble floors, tiled and textured walls and integrated art offer a little breather for anyone tired of the usual shenanigans.

Culture tourism is not our high point. People come to Las Vegas for Vegas, but exhaustion sets after a few days. Some want to get away from the noise. The novelty of clattering casinos and attractions can only last so long. Not everyone wants to visit Alcatraz or Pier 39 on return trips to San Francisco or stroll through Paul Revere’s house every time they’re in Boston.

A guest at Aria’s VIP opening last week complained that the hotel is boring because its lobby and View Bar look like something that could be in any city in the United States. I’m thinking this is something that should be celebrated, not lamented.

The placement of a Henry Moore sculpture under trees in an area mimicking a little park immediately evokes the feeling of an American city. Not the sense of one (brought about by trinkets), but the reality of being in one.

Fake Venice, fake Paris, fake Egypt are fun, but a slice of a real-seeming fake city is what the Strip needs.

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Kristen Peterson

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