Hidden in Plain Sight - Public Art in Las Vegas

Public art differs from some of the commercial art we see in that local and federal governments (read that your tax money) and private organizations commission and pay for the artwork which is displayed and accessible in public places. Whether it be the Mall's Balls in Adelaide, Australia or Vaquero, the Mexican cowboy on a bronco by Luis Jimenez at the entrance to Las Vegas' McCarran Airport, we enjoy seeking it out and learning more about it.  

vaquero by luis jimenez las vegas nevada


The problem is, however, that sometimes the artwork is “hidden in plain sight”. It's right in front of our eyes and still we pass it by midst the glitz, glamor and neon lights of Las Vegas. We finally found a CityCenter Fine Art Collection guide on-line (as well as an App) that provided some information about artwork and artists, as well as their locations. As an aside, the CityCenter Fine Art Collection is touted to be “the first major permanent collection of art in Las Vegas to be integrated into a public space. [It] is one of the world’s largest and most ambitious corporate collections in existence today.” The marble sculpture Reclining Connected Forms by Henry Moore is said to be a primary example of his work inspired by the fundamentals of human experience, in this case a fetus in the womb. His signature form is a reclining figure of which he is said to have been influenced by the ancient cultures of Egypt and pre-Columbian Mexico. It's located in a little part between Aria and Crystals on the Strip.



reclining connected forms by henry moore las vegas nevada


Bolt, Bent of Mind and Untitled (Tall Column) by Tony Cragg are three interesting stainless steel towers that seem to exert their own energy. They're located in the Aria Hotel & Casino near the self-park lobby.


bolt by tony cragg las vegas nevada


Halo by Mark Fuller et al is a display of about 50 vertical, clear plastic cylinders with spinning water inside which produces a waterspout/tornado effect. The cylinders are at different heights, some sloped and at different orientations with colored lights beneath which produce unusual visual effects. Some of the cylinders are below ground providing an interesting perspective as you look into them. We could have watched this one for hours. Fuller and group are also responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio and the volcano eruption at the Mirage. There are several other pieces of artwork in this “WET” collection including an ice sculpture that melts and is refrozen each day. See it all at The Shops at Crystals/Aria.


halo by mark fuller las vegas nevada


Nancy Rubins' Big Edge was hard to get to, but fun to look at. Known for her “blooming arrangements of large rigid objects” and found materials, Big Edge consists of more than 200 aluminum boats ... mostly canoes, but we saw a few rowboats and flat-bottomed boats, too … arranged in a very large, unlikely bouquet of color and shape, placed against a background of the downtown high rises. It's definitely unique. It's located at Harmon Circle near the entrance to Vdara.


big edge by nancy rubins las vegas nevada


There are lots more pieces to find and discover, but you really have to come here and find them for yourself. Not every piece of artwork is at the City Center or a part of the City Center Collection. Take the gorgeous Chihuly flowers on the ceiling at the entrance to the Bellagio by glass sculpture artist Dale Chihuly. How extraordinary!


chihuly flowers by dale chihuly las vegas nevada Then there's the big Dogs grouping by Mark Chatterly at the Cosmopolitan which occupies a very large open hallway. It pleasantly sneaks up on you when you're not expecting it.


dogs by mark chatterly las vegas nevada


At one of the entrances to Paris, we spotted “Aftermath”, a bronze sculpture of a sweeper doing his part to clean up at the end of a day. The sculptor, J. Seward Johnson, is known for his trompe l'oeil work (fool the eye) which appears very lifelike. We've seen some of his work previously in Sydney, as a matter of fact.


aftermath by j seward johnson las vegas nevada I guess my point is, there's so much fine art in Las Vegas that we tend to overlook it. There are not always signs to let you know what you're seeing. It takes some time to research the artist and the piece perhaps, but I find it worth the effort. Next time you're here, make it a point to seek out all the hidden art in plain sight.