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Art Adventures – Episode 01

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Be sure to read the Art Adventures Intro first!

Do you like bunnies and birds? Chickadees and pastels? How about Jesus, springtime, and resurrection?

Welcome to Easter Royale.

Belagio CeilingIt’s a confusing holiday, which means it’s the perfect occasion for discovering art.

Our spirits were aroused, and we were curious to know how Las Vegas chose to hold this day. Which of our dear city’s many bubbles of reality would house an Easter Sunday?  Would we experience judgment for seeking salvation within artificial structures?

We awoke in a lucid dream, heat pouring through the small crack in our car window. The clamor of car horns, and the smell of melting asphalt cascaded through the air in rippling waves as we awkwardly danced in staccato to the careless blinking of brake lights.  The people were out and all around.  They followed us, surrounded us, carried us to the Las Vegas strip and to the famed hotel and casino, Bellagio.

We exited our car disoriented, our disposition slightly maligned by the swarming hordes of humans.  The Bellagio parking lot was a brief relief from the screaming afternoon traffic, and we shared a sour smile as we stretched our legs.

“Are you ready to go inside” my dry voice cracked?

“I’m ready, I think,” she replied.

“It’s going to be a madhouse in there… Before we go in, eat this,” I handed my companion a small piece of bread.  I took a small piece for myself and we chewed in silence.  She sipped from a bottle of white grape juice and then handed it to me.  The juice briefly sparkled a light crystal color in my eye; I exhaled and sipped it down, feeling the sugar coarse through my blood.

Entrance FlorOur dreaming bodies were pushed through the casino’s caves and meandering alleyways of slot machines,high-end retail stores, restaurants, and ersatz statues.  We were chasing salvation from the oppression of knowing we were but an insignificant part of a larger mob.  ‘Why’ echoed in our heads. We pressed forward.

We wanted to know, to feel, that our daily existence is unique, that our lives are not just mirrors for the groups of drooping faces we were passing.  We wanted to connect with a passion deep within ourselves.

Vagrants, perfume assassins, false signs, flyer bandits crowded all around us, crippling our inner-desire to push farther toward our destination. We had unknowingly engaged in a war with the unbeatable enemy that is the ever present throng loitering in every Las Vegas hotel and casino.   

Then, in the distance, past a milling gauntlet of spatially inept Homo sapiens, we saw it.  A far-off glimmer of natural light spilled into the casino, a beacon of truth cutting through oppressive darkness.

Each spring, summer, fall, and winter the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden, a 14,000 square foot Room with a 50 foot tall glass ceiling, is transformed by a number of talented horticulturalists and designers into a breathtaking floral display. The 2016 spring display featured a Japanese theme with shrubs, Ivy, azaleas, begonias, hibiscus, cherry blossom trees Magnolia trees camphor trees, ficus, bamboo, and  over 80 thousand flowers in total.

“This is not reality, but the dream is real now that we’re here, let’s forget to remember we are in the Bellagio. In Las Vegas,” I whispered to my weary comrade.

“I’ve been here before…” she breathed.

We awoke from our shared dream into a world filled with argent representations of nature’s most colloquial harbingers of zest and revival.

Giant FlorWe breathed in a hesitant sigh of relief, and began unpacking our gear.  Japanese flute music played over hidden speakers, the bubbling sound of falling water could be heard with a strained ear, and among the large pools of families, selfie-hungry tourists, and crying children, there were sharp moments where the floral displays could be appreciated.
Renewal washed over us.

Thank you for reading. Part 2 >

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Art Adventures – Episode 02

Title Header 02On that fateful Easter Sunday, in the Bellagio’s Atrium, we had only begun our contemplative journey, our internalization of the grand artistic display swimming around us.  Fresh from our resurrection, we stood ready to dive deep into the meticulously arranged prana.

One word echoed in my head. Escape. There is something mysteriously alluring about escaping the anywhere but here, the anytime but now.

White CraneOur lives are grand, our riches vast, and yet still, we seek something outside of ourselves.  We search for realities and experience that speak directly to our complex neural cortices and stimulate our reticular activation systems.  Our eyes bright with fervent longing, we divorce ourselves from the moment, from nature, and from one another to bail headlong into the matrix.  

What was the Bellagio trying to tell us with their grand floral display?

We stepped into the brightly sun-lit atrium, and our senses were immediately assailed with combinations of colors more complex than mathematics describing the interstellar orbital mosaics of planets. It was dizzying.  

The power of the moment, an abrupt transition from crowded Las Vegas casino to crowded engineered garden, was all present.  Our brains denied the sudden tectonic shift in awareness causing our bodies to stand frozen as they scrambled to reconcile how our internal and external worlds would engage.

The world before us, centered in the heart of the Las Vegas ‘strip,’ stood surreal,  a giant bloom of fragrant color that was both an abstract, cartoon-like interpretation of the natural world, and a quick glimpse into the psyche of humanity’s collective desire to continually manifest an unreality.  

Transplanted flowers, life-sized plastic trees, ridiculously large floral representations of birds and turtles with lifeless stares, real live koi fish, and all inside a casino, in a desert…. We have expected to see Alice and the Mad Hatter sitting next to us.

TurtleIndeed, the city of Las Vegas itself could easily stand as tribute to this somewhat amorphous concept, a melting point for where our dreams mix with concrete and dust. The feeling of being close to such contrived nature was that of instant amusement and appreciation for the artists.

We crept toward the floral displays with our cameras in hand, ducking the extended selfie-handed taller patrons, and dodging jubilant young ones that darted around, a peripheral chaos of humans falling around us in waves of confetti.  The struggle to capture the awesomeness of the micro and macro illusions unique to this display stirred an undercurrent of discontent.  We wanted the perfect shot, we wanted to connect, we wanted to be fully enveloped in the power of the art, but the milling masses pulled and tugged at our animal brain. The potential for total immersion suffered an odd death at the hands of a thousand innocent leaky faucets.

There is this phenomenon that is the power of a shared experience, and where strangers will greet each other with silent gazes and expressions that wordlessly exclaim, “Did you see that!?”  We look for affirmation of our own amazement in the eyes of anyone reeling from the same experience.  Perhaps there were those in the crowd that were reeling, and as for us, we felt overwhelmingly in-the-way.  Our young, eager selves were not quite tall enough to peer over the crowd to see the beauty beyond but for more than an instant.  

Bird TreeWe jumped, we ducked, we used our elbows, and we glimpsed the matrix.  Escape proved elusive in the Bellagio’s Garden that day, though we left the atrium with an assured feeling that there remained a healthy portion of untasted appreciation between artist and artee.  Perhaps we would return some other time….

Have you ever felt divorced from the moment?  What did that feel like?  What brought you back? Share your thoughts below, or maybe just let us know how we can do better.
Thank you for reading. Episode 3 »