Our previous adventures have mostly leaned toward exploring the visual arts, and not as much toward performing arts, music, etc. but we felt absolutely compelled to attend this annual event that is unique to Las Vegas and in celebration of ‘the arts’ overall.
It is a wonderful event. We were able to see numerous celebrated artists, experience large mural street art and large sculpted art installations all while listening to some of our favorite performers and eating delicious food.
For the many that may not know what the Life is Beautiful festival is about, we’ll give you a quick rundown. It is a three day event that extends well into the late night. It spans eighteen square blocks in the old downtown Las Vegas, also loosely known as Fremont St., which also happens to be near the Art District. For three days and three nights the streets are filled with people from all over walking to and from different stages where well known musical artists perform, trekking between awkwardly large and colorful art installations, sauntering in and out of bars and art galleries alike, and maybe even stopping to listen to intriguing panel discussions about the future of our culture. People doing what people do best; eating, drinking, and making merry.
The festival is for all ages, as all good festivals are, and everyone parties past their bedtimes. The atmosphere, day or night, is a smoky bonfire of great vibes, mixing what Vegas is known for, epic parties, and a little something that our sweet town is cultivating, artistic talent and intrigue.
In previous adventures we had occasion to talk to artists about their thoughts and feelings on the Las Vegas art scene. For many, the story is a bleak one, and Las Vegas is not the place to be an artist. Las Vegas is branded and known as a place for uninhibited tomfoolery and not so much a place where people go to experience and talk about the high culture of art….
For others, there was an acknowledgment of the small and budding nature of the art scene. The nod to the humble scene was spoken with enthusiasm, a small glint of the eye reflecting excitement about being part of a growing movement, or maybe reflecting a more quiet sense of having a home where external social pressures are more murmurs than possible career death knells.
The draw of this internationally known party city is at times unreal. Hordes of people from every corner of the world spilling in continuous waves, breaking on the shores of ‘the strip’ to cut loose, and every day this city works hard to maintain an image of luxury so that people know they can cut loose in style.
The obvious appeal of the city that sets it apart from most is the gamble, chance. The prospect of winning big and building castles in the sky is part of at least one fantasy held by nearly every human in this world. Las Vegas has temples built in honor of this blatantly observable human condition.
People though, are more complex, and after a time they will seek something with more depth and satisfaction than the fleeting high of a bouncing white marble settling closer to a thin painted red or black stripe. The point is, that for many, there needs to be something more brilliant and colorful in their lives. On some level Las Vegas also recognizes this about our collective humanity and seeks to deliver in a big way. Las Vegas says, ‘Let’s not just talk about art, let’s party about art because Life is Beautiful!” Then, Las Vegas delivers.
Surely it’s true that some artists seek an established community with deep historical roots and a long A-list of big fish, while others seek calmer waters. What remains is that any place is what you paint it to be, and Las Vegas is ripe with opportunity on many levels. Good or bad, thriving or sputtering, the art scene and community in Las Vegas is tangible. Real people, real depth of spirit, real art.
Let your mind wonder with these thoughts for a moment before reading on.
We have yet to dig into Las Vegas’ art history. Our adventures were brief and delicately superficial in a lot of ways. This shines true in the conclusions made in our episodic recounting, the gaps in our thoughts and broken imagery. We don’t deny that we are likely to have gotten some things wrong. We wanted to go more places, stay longer, learn more, see more, see into more. Write more engaging pieces.
We’re just getting started. We’re going to go more places and talk to more people. Create more engaging works. We want you to come with us. We want you to tell us how we can do better. We want to hear your stories. Together we’re going to go deep because we are, and forever will be, adventurers.
Thank you for showing up and reading ArtHaven’s original Blog Mini Series, “Art Adventures.”
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