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Las Vegas’ 18b district dedicates 18 blocks—and more—to artists.
Photo: Susanne Reese/Gary A. Reese (below)
As visitors wind their way from room to room in the City of the World Gallery, majestic big cats and other serene nature portraits give way to gothic representations of skulls and domestic black cats. Some might consider it an odd mix, but it’s the sort of juxtaposition that’s welcomed by art enthusiasts in Las Vegas’ 18b district.
Roberto Rico and Gina Quaranto are the featured artists on this particular Saturday evening, a nice conclusion to an all-day gallery crawl. Housed in an unassuming robin’s-egg blue and yellow cottage, the nonprofit City of the World brings together local artists to share ideas, showcase their works, and expose the arts to children and adults—a microcosm of what the district as a whole aims to do.
Centered at Main Street and Charleston Boulevard, the district gives art lovers a concentration of galleries to suit any taste, plus an eclectic mix of shops, eateries, and other surprises. The burgeoning area has even outgrown its name, overflowing the 18 blocks that birthed Las Vegas’ downtown arts scene and gave 18b its moniker.
Virtually all the galleries and other paeans to urban pop culture participate in Las Vegas’ First Friday event each month from 6 to 10 p.m., but galleries keep limited hours otherwise. So if there’s something you don’t want to miss, call for an appointment.
The Arts Factory, a two-story red brick industrial building near Charleston and Main, is the district’s birthplace. It is home to Contemporary Arts Collective on the ground floor where artists meet, share ideas, and find creative support, and patrons can explore and learn about artists and their media and styles. Contemporary Arts Collective hosts shows monthly. Performing arts, as well as two- and three-dimensional artworks, are welcome. “As long as it can fit through the door,” says local artist and volunteer Mark Diederichsen.
The Arts Factory also is home to the Jennifer Main Gallery. One day I was treated to an expanded repertoire of Main’s works, as I caught the artist in the midst of rearranging her gallery’s walls. Main, who describes her style as “figurative abstract,” uses vibrant reds, bold yellows, and her subjects’ large, expressive eyes to convey the simple pleasures and pulsating rhythms of the urban lifestyle. “I get my inspiration from everyday life experiences and what I may be feeling at the moment,” she says.
For another take on full, undiluted color and bold strokes, you can see Shannon Webb’s figure, landscape, and still-life work at the Shannon Webb Studio, also on the ground floor. Webb’s pieces are inspired by shadows and high contrast. Upstairs at Damned Ink, you’ll find paintings and ink drawings that explore artist Danny Roberts’ sometimes hopeful, sometimes heartbreaking examinations of man’s conflicted relationship with culture, nature, and responsibility. “Each subject is on the verge of an epiphany and facing a new conflict,” Roberts says. “It is a brief moment of either acceptance or rebellion.”
If you’ve made an appointment, stop by S2 Editions Atelier, next to the Arts Factory, to see the painstaking process the master printers use to reproduce fine art lithographs on massive, 140-year-old presses. Pick up one of the colorful Tom Everhart “Snoopy” lithos printed at S2 or journey north to the Arts Village on Main Street to Jack Gallery for a Toulouse-Lautrec lithograph. The gallery also sells artwork posters. The Arts Village building—its facade resembles a painter’s splotched overalls—also is home to Sharon Gainsburg’s realist and abstract stone sculptures and Garcia’s Fine Arts, which recently exhibited the uniquely tooled and custom-finished metalwork from local artist Chris Greene’s “Aluminations” collection.
Near the village and worth the shopping detour is funky fashion reseller, The Attic. And whether you’re planning a night of fly-tying or looking to enter an Elton John look-a-like contest, Rainbow Feather Dyeing Company can supply you with raw materials.
From here, you can head south to Commerce Street Studios to check out the edgy, often avant-garde displays at The Fallout and neighboring Circadian Gallery, with its aggressive, brooding expressions and impressionistic nudes by Daniel Pearson. Or you can mosey westward to visit the renovated Holsum Design Center, the former 1950s bakery recently converted to shops, studios, and artist lofts. It is home to Gallery P, where Joseph Palermo displays his art, which commemorates his Modernist style, as well as the works of Hanna Iglikowska, Rick Metzler, and more.
If you need a break from the bountiful art 18b has to offer, shop the grandma’s attic feel of Furniture Outlet, Main Street Antiques, and The Funk House for collectibles, curiosities, vintage chrome and suede furniture, and delightfully kitschy accessories.
Guide to Nevada Art Festivals
By Sarah Hollender
Whether it is an oil painting’s subtle brush strokes, the creative flair of a sculpture, or a striking one-of-a-kind jewelry piece, lovers of fine art will find plenty of choices in the Silver State. The largest art festivals include ArtFest of Henderson in May, Reno’s month-long Artown in July, the new month-long Railway Reflections in Carson City during July and August, and Boulder City’s October Art in the Park.
Art enthusiasts will find information on these and more events in the following guide to Nevada Art Festivals.
Las Vegas Area
ArtFest of Henderson, May 10-11, 702-267-4849, hendersonlive.com
Art in the Park, Boulder City: Oct. 4-5, 702-293-2043, boulder-city-chamber.com
Pomegranate Art Festival, Logandale: Nov. 7-8, 702-397-6444, moapavalley.com
Winter Arts Festival, Boulder City: Jan. 2009, 702-293-2138, boulder-city-chamber.com
Boulder City Fine Arts Festival: April 2009, 702-293-2138, bcfineartsfestival.com
Invitational Native American Arts Festival, Henderson: April 2009, 702-455-7955, co.clark.nv.us
Carson Valley Art Association Second Saturday, Carson Valley: Events at seven galleries. 775-783-00633, visitcarsonvalley.org
Arts in Bloom, Sparks: May 11, 775-353-2291, ci.sparks.nv.us
Magiko! Be a Part of the Magic, Carson Valley: June 19-July 5, 775-782-8144, visitcarsonvalley.org
Artown, Reno: July 1-31, 775-322-1538, renoisartown.com
North Tahoe ARTour, Lake Tahoe: July 11-13, 18-20, 530-581-2787, northtahoearts.com
Lake Tahoe Festival of Fine Arts, South Lake Tahoe: July 12-13, 530-542-3632, tahoeartsproject.org
Railway Reflections International Art Expo, Carson City: July 17-Aug. 17, 775-813-8935, railwayreflections.org
Art and Wine Festival, Gardnerville: July 19, 775-782-2555, visitcarsonvalley.org
Art, Wine, & Music Festival, Lake Tahoe: July 19-20, 530-583-6985, squaw.com
Arts & Crafts Fair, Minden: Sept. 6-7, 775-782-2444, visitcarsonvalley.org
Art Bark Festival: Animal, Art, & Wine Festival, Lake Tahoe: Sept. 13-14, 877-464-3364, barkfestival.com
Genoa Candy Dance, Genoa: Sept. 27-28, 775-782-8696, candydanceartsandcraftsfaire.org
Valhalla Holiday Faire, Lake Tahoe: Nov. 21-23, 530-541-4975, valhallatahoe.com
Show & Shine/Art in the Park Festival, Carlin: Aug. 16-17, 775-754-6354, explorecarlinnv.com
Burning Man Festival, Black Rock Desert: Aug. 25-Sept. 1-415-TO-FLAME, burningman.com
City of the World Gallery
1229 S. Casino Center Blvd.
The Arts Factory
101-107 E. Charleston Blvd.
S2 Editions Atelier
1 E. Charleston Blvd.
1039 S. Main St.
Commerce Street Studios
1551 S. Commerce St.
Holsum Design Center
231-241 W. Charleston Blvd.
WORTH A CLICK