As We See It

14 to Watch in 2014: Where are they now?


Brett Sperry

Developer Brett Sperry, who owns and operates Brett Wesley Gallery inside Art Square, initiated efforts for the proposed Downtown art museum, the Modern, then stepped down as its board chair in November when his three-year term was up. The board is moving forward with its plans, which include looking for possible alternative locations for the museum that had been scheduled for Charleston Boulevard and Art Way. —Kristen Peterson

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis waves from the red carpet as she arrives during the VIP grand opening of Giada, the first Giada De Laurentiis restaurant, on Monday, June 2, 2014, in the Cromwell.

Giada De Laurentiis

In 2014, Giada De Laurentiis (teaming up with Caesars Entertainment) did something very difficult—created a dining destination that delivered exactly the experience her fans and followers would expect, while simultaneously exceeding expectations for her first-ever restaurant. The Food Network dynamo also spent a lot of time at the Cromwell this year—maybe more than other celeb chefs—maintaining control and quality at every opportunity, a feat that seems even more significant in light of her recent announcement that she separated from Todd Thompson, her husband of 11 years, at about the same time the restaurant opened. —Brock Radke

David Armstrong

Only David Armstrong would describe a year in which he took a position at Gonzaga University in Washington, won story of the week (“Declarations”) in Narrative Magazine, published a collection (Going Anywhere), and met his first son as "not quite as productive" as his time in Las Vegas. But those are the insanely high standards that made us take notice of him in 2014—and will surely mean great things to come for this budding creative-writing guru. —Molly O'Donnell

Alisha Kerlin

Alisha Kerlin started the year with a bang via her installation "Marking Territory" at the Cosmopolitan's P3Studio, but her mid-year exhibition at the Clark County Government Center was truly unforgettable. Roadrunners That Won't Run Far lampooned yard art while elevating giant concrete roadrunners into physical manifestations of existential desert ennui. Kerlin's work as collection manager at the Barrick has also expanded collaborations and critique, most notably through the museum's lively visiting artist series. —Danielle Kelly

Corey Taylor

When we checked in with teen radio host Corey Taylor last year, she had just used her car savings to help fund her new radio show, and was already off to a successful start. The host, who doubles as an actress, has since been in the local PollyGrind film Atelophobia, and has even had the other Corey Taylor (yes, the one from Slipknot) on her show. As for 2015, Taylor has plans to make a slight shift in programming, says a representative for the show, but the goal remains the same: helping kids stay positive with a focus on teen-related topics like bullying, addiction, homelessness and more. —Leslie Ventura

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck waves goodbye to the crowd as he walks off the field for the last time at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014.

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck waves goodbye to the crowd as he walks off the field for the last time at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014.

Bobby Hauck

Coming off a year that saw his Rebel football team win seven games and earn a bowl bid, UNLV’s football coach appeared poised to take his program one rung higher in 2014. It was not to be. The Rebels finished 2-11 and dead last in the Mountain West’s West division, and Hauck found himself out of a job at season’s end, replaced by Bishop Gorman’s Tony Sanchez. —Spencer Patterson

Robert Hoo

Community organizer Robert Hoo had a big 2014, culminating in Nevadans for the Common Good’s convention at Cashman Center, which drew 1,600 people and numerous public officials, including incoming State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Congresswoman Dina Titus and Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani. For 2015, Hoo and the organization are pushing forward with initiatives surrounding elder care, immigration and education. “We’re excited,” Hoo says, “and there’s a lot of work to do.” —Sarah Feldberg



The emerging teenage singer further positioned herself for a potential breakout, performing during Austin’s South by Southwest Festival and at her second Life Is Beautiful Festival here in Las Vegas. She opened for Sheryl Crow at Downtown Container Park and for Mayer Hawthorne at Fremont Country Club, and participated in Downtown’s pre-Burning Man Life Cube Burn. Perhaps most significantly, she signed her first publishing and licensing agreement, with plans to focus on writing and recording in 2015. —Spencer Patterson

CJ Jhureea

When we first met CJ he was at a crossroads: fresh out of a role in Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE and just starting to dive into the world of street art in Las Vegas. A year later, the Aussie dancer, artist and, yes, occasional model has stayed in town, developing his signature heart-balloon image, doing some work for Nike and creating an indoor microgreens farm Downtown with some friends. Right now, he’s gearing up for an Arts District show in February, which he won’t say much about, except to follow him on Instagram @cjthekid for “clues.” “With struggle comes strength,” Jhureea said via text, “and I have had my fair share I feel. It’s time to show why I stuck around.” —Sarah Feldberg

Lt. Governor candidate Lucy Flores gives a concession speech during an election night party for Democrats at the MGM Grand Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

Lucy Flores

Our main reason to follow Flores in ’14 was her hopeful trajectory toward Nevada’s Lieutenant Governor post—and while the Democrat seized the nomination, the office was ultimately lost by a landslide victory (59.4% to 33.6%, source: Las Vegas Sun) to Republican candidate Mark Hutchison. —Mark Adams

Robert Bigelow

This might be the biggest year ever for Robert Bigelow's local aerospace company. Working with NASA, Bigelow Aerospace is gearing up for the launch of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, which will hard-dock to the International Space Station. It’s the first time an expandable habitat will become part of a crewed system, according to a company rep. As for Bigelow’s personal efforts to push forward non-interference principals for commercial developments on the moon, his rep says the mood is “very optimistic regarding the FAA and the government as a whole supporting the principals of non-interference for commercial endeavors as well as asset protection and safety on the lunar surface, creating an environment that’s conducive to investment.” —Erin Ryan

Banger Brewing

The beer-making equipment Banger Brewing’s owners used to brew their first batches now sits as decoration in a corner of the Downtown brewpub, a visual reminder of just how far the operation has come since its humble, homebrewing beginnings. Banger’s Fremont Street brewery and taproom have been open just over a year now, and in that time part-owner Roberto Mendoza says they produced a whopping 47 beers—that’s almost double the 25 recipes the outfit started with and an impressive feat for any brewery’s inaugural year.

An exterior view of Banger Brewing in downtown Las Vegas Monday, May 12, 2014.

Banger also made moves with distribution in 2014, as its brews have been featured on taps at Henderson beer bar Shakespeare’s and at Downtown destinations like Pizza Rock, the Market and Bin 702 at Container Park. You still can’t find a Banger brew on the shelves at your neighborhood grocery store (Mendoza says that’s part of the master plan), but the brewery did begin bottling in-house this year. “We’re thinking of doing bottles quarterly,” he says, holding a bomber of the brewery’s anniversary ale—a 12 percent ABV Belgian quad (yum!)—that has been available both in-the-bottle and on-tap at Banger since its late December birthday party. Banger has also expanded its offerings in 2014 to include 40-pint kegs for $100, and every First Friday firkins complement the already-extensive tap lineup. Did we mention the brewers experiment with the brewery’s randalizer (hop infuser) on the weekends to produce new, flavor-infused brews? With drive and creativity, Banger kept things exciting and delicious in 2014. Cheers to more growth—and damn good beers—in 2015! —Mark Adams

Ross Mollison

Ross Mollison rang in 2014 with the opening night of Vegas Nocturne, the bawdy and talent-loaded vaudevillian production produced by his production company Spiegelworld (Absinthe) that all but anchored Cosmopolitan’s also-new Rose. Rabbit. Lie. venue. But after six-and-a-half months, the casino-hotel shut down the show, reportedly due to soft sales and high overhead. On August 6, Mollison filed a lawsuit alleging all sorts of misconduct that Cosmopolitan has said it will disprove should either party enter a courtroom. The end of the year saw Rose. Rabbit. Lie.’s doors remain open but Vegas Nocturne unable to relocate, much to the disappointment of its passionate, albeit modest following. —Mike Prevatt

Dr. Zubin Damania

It’s been an eventful 2014 for Dr. Zubin Damania and Turntable Health. He launched his innovative health care system Downtown in late 2013 (you pay a flat $80 monthly fee for “all-you-can-eat” access to services a primary care physician would traditionally provide), and by early 2014 had about 100 members. That number has now grown to nearly 2,000, and Damania hopes to soon expand the program to suburban areas. “To see people coming from as far away as places like Pahrump tells me that Downtown has really arrived, and that our model actually works,” says Damania.

In addition, his YouTube alter ego, ZDogg MD, continues to pump out music parody videos aimed at raising awareness. His most recent addition is a parody of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” about prescription drug abusers (called “Blank Script”), and the character’s popularity is growing. His video about Ebola (sung to “Lola” by the Kinks) received 150,000 views. Damania is also compiling a semi-autobiographical collection of stories about the funnier side of medicine. He hopes to publish it this year. —Ken Miller

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