Am a hug fan of Las Vegas – especially downtown!! Worked there twice over the last few years during Rehan Choudry’s Life Is Beautiful Festival (AMAZING event celebrating the intersection of music, art, food and ideas). The contemporary art featured at the festival was first-rate and I met a number of artists including Matthew Couper.
Been searching for details on dates and line-up for 2016 but have come up empty. All indications suggest Life Is Beautiful is dunzo. What a bummer! LIB was fantastic on so many levels and did so much to energize downtown.
Meanwhile, while hunting around for info on LIB, I did discover a new website, settlersandnomads.com dedicated to contemporary art with ties to Vegas. Created by a local artist Wendy Kveck, it links to bios and images of 28 artists living in Vegas (“settlers”) along with 80 artists who have lived or worked there (“nomads”). It also includes links to cool projects like James Turell’s “Akhob.”
More below on DTLV (the good and the bad) as well as a roundup of some of my favorite spots.
As I’ve written before, I love DTLV because it reminds me so much of the Lower East Side (or Bushwick) but with a sunny desert vibe. I also am well aware that I have only ever been here during the Life Is Beautiful Festival when downtown is absolutely hopping and fun and very secure. I’ve recently heard that the lack of regular foot traffic is causing a lot of problems for local businesses, many have shuttered or are barely hanging on. Additionally Zappos is going thru a lot of turmoil and layoffs (holacracy at work) so who knows how long it will take for downtown to get its mojo back and live up to its potential.
That said, most of my favorite spots are still going strong: Commonwealth with the super cool speakeasy, The Laundry Room in back (Tony Hsieh turned me on to this fabulous spot at the first LIB), La Comida, Beat Coffeehouse & Records (best t-shirts!!), the Emergency Arts Building, and Le Thai (my favorite restaurant downtown). The Container Park is another cool spot although I imagine there’s a lot of turnover with the businesses since most are very tourist dependent. And finally, I am excited that DTLV is getting a bike sharing program this year!!