Las Vegas's Dizzying Visual-Art Developments

Joseph Palermo
Las Vegas Art Museum's newsletter Art Beat - Fall 2000


With the folding earlier this year of both the Nevada Institute for Contemporary Art after twelve years, and the Allied Arts Council after forty years of serving southern Nevada, the dawn of the new millennium has not been a good year for the financial sustainment of local non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting visual arts culture in metropolitan Las Vegas.  On the other hand, LVAM continues to prosper as never before.  But building a dedicated high-art audience in Las Vegas's supercharged, electrifying entertainment environment has not been easy, nor will it soon become so.
     The Las Vegas Art Museum is approaching the end of its 51st year of existence.  During that half-century, its fortunes repeatedly waxed and waned, yet it survived to eventually find itself housed in the spectacular new facility it has occupied these past four years.  The present year's disappointing failure, of the two institutions aforementioned, is an object lesson for all such entities attempting to prosper and continually grow in this, the world's most unconventional city, with the fiercest leisure-time and entertainment competition the world has ever known.  And now the Phillips Collection at the Bellagio, and the impending Guggenheim/Hermitage venture at the Venetian, serve to intensify the siren song of fine art which is romancing Las Vegas's three dozen million annual visitors, plus addressing an evolving native demographic as well.
     In veiw of all the foregoing, making confident conclusions or predictions about the dizzying visual-art developments in Las Vegas these days is obviously not advisable.  Few could have foreseen the abrupt and unprecedented birth of the Bellagio Collection of Fine Art, and even fewer anticipated its astoundingly sudden dismemberment.  And what will Mr. Wynn do next, artwise?  Meanwhile LVAM keeps the faith, perseveres , and steadily gains in stature and strength.  The Museum extends its unceasing gratitude to its increasing supporters, and it pledges to uphold the high standards it has set for itself since it opened in the Sahara West facility in 1997.