Fine Art

The illustrated word: A look at three Book Festival art exhibits

This is a writer-artist collaboration on display at CAC.

Dialogue between disciplines Visually depicting words or sculpting phrases goes well beyond the literal when you open your mind and throw in colors, voices, flavors, experiences and your past. Where you end is likely distant from where you began. So what do phrases such as “Trees don’t understand rain” or “To have old, eaten bones. Oh, that we never navigate ice” look like? Find out at the Contemporary Arts Center, where 18 visual artists and writers teamed up to create the exhibit I Hope You’re Feeling Better by crossing media, sharing ideas and blending concepts.

It’s an ambitious and multi-voiced exhibit curated by Kathryn Kruse and Andreana Donahue, and it brings in some of the top artists and writers in Southern Nevada, who worked in groups, using various—and often fluid—processes to create works. Some works are presented formally: a poem made in response to a painting or vice versa. Others blend the work: a poem reconstructed as billboard using photography with the text of the poem hidden in the images.

Brent Sommerhauser, a visual artist working mainly in three-dimensional works, teamed with Kruse, a fiction writer and MFA candidate in UNLV’s creative writing program. They’re responsible for the above phrases (“Trees” and “Bones”) and several others in the show. But they leave it up to viewers to figure out which text correlates to which images and objects.

United for the project by their shared fascination with abandoned spaces, they began by discussing concepts that create space and hold things together, which morphed into the idea of what holds together language. “We need to not let art stagnate, to not say, ‘This is what visual art is, this is what writing is …,” Kruse says. “Inviting other views into your concepts or space enhances it.”

I Hope You Are Feeling Better, CAC, through January 7, opening reception, readings and artists talk on November 4.

Confection memories Sugar Confection Recollection, curated by Jeanne Voltura, features memorable desserts from artists’ pasts. The unique combination of recipes it brings out include Justin Favela’s creamy Seven-Up Jello casserole (his grandmother’s recipe) depicted in a piñata. The exhibit ties in with the festival’s cookbook segment. Most works are traditional representational paintings—sundaes, pies, cookies—that incorporate the original recipe. Andreana Donahue’s “rock candy revisited,” however, takes it to another level. The hand-cut paper and enamel spray-paint piece portrays a dynamic crystalline. It’s good enough to eat.

Sugar Confection Recollection, Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth St.

Boneyard stories Experience the iconic Neon Boneyard through tales of lost souls, aliens and zombies. Writers and artists launch illustrated, comic-book style fiction inspired by the Neon Boneyard for the Vegas Valley Book Festival graphic novel, Tales from the Neon Boneyard.

Blackbird Studios, 1551 South Commerce Street, through November 28, opening reception on November 4.

Photo of Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson

Get more Kristen Peterson

Previous Discussion:

Top of Story