Wendy Kveck is a curator, and curators make choices. When they make inspired choices, they can guide culture forward. So in creating Vantage Vegas, Kveck’s choice of visual artists Ginger Bruner and Lisa Stamanis was only the beginning. Her culture-propelling genius was adding culinary artist Michael Jordan, poet Dayvid Figler and mixologist Michael Shetler to the mix.
The theme is Las Vegas, and by choosing this group of artists, Kveck has tapped into an important curatorial practice in contemporary art—one that seeks to merge and blur the lines between art forms, reminding us that all forms are somehow related and we can embrace them together. The fun part is never knowing how all the work will relate to each other until it comes together in one place. It’s a leap of faith based on intuition, but often surprising visual dynamics occur. For example, how will Shetler’s colorful concoctions respond visually to Bruner’s high-density use of color? How will Figler’s spoken word resonate with the audience members and their experience viewing Stamanis’ drawings.
The visual art aspect of Vantage Vegas includes photographic work by artists Bruner and Stamanis. Bruner uses high-density color to enhance her vision of Las Vegas. In case you have doubts that Las Vegas’ colors could be magnified to a point denser than the city itself, check out Bruner’s photography. (Bruner’s additional talents include writing, radio production and tuba playing in bands such as Killian’s Angels.) Stamanis, who works full-time as the Visual Arts Specialist for the city of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs, creates carefully rendered drawings that depict Vegas themes. Sometimes her works are drawn on small cocktail napkins. Stamanis’ drawings are quiet and force the viewer to take time to look. She offers a new and more meditative perspective on a very loud and overbearing metropolis.
For years, Figler, a full-time lawyer, has created a body of work about Vegas and other subjects that if they did not make you laugh so hard they would surely make you cry. For Vantage Vegas, Figler will be performing works about growing up in Las Vegas and the intersection between “keno and religion” His spoken-word performances and writings touch on universal themes that have earned him national recognition on NPR’s All Things Considered and McSweeney’s online. The occasional Vegas Seven contributor has also been a featured reader at festivals such as Bumbershoot, South by Southwest, Lollapalooza and the San Francisco Sketchfest in 2011.
The general manager of Sage at Aria, Shetler is one of Las Vegas’ top beer experts, pioneering the pairing of gourmet food with world-class beer. At Vegas Vantage, he will offer four of his cocktail creations inspired by Vegas and created for the event.
Jordan, the chef at Rosemary’s Restaurant, draws from a variety of culinary influences to create French-inspired, creative American cuisine with regional twists from New Orleans, the Deep South and the Midwest. The “small bites” he is creating for the evening are also inspired by Vegas and are prepared specifically for Vegas Vantage.
Between cocktails by Shetler, remember that Vegas Vantage is a curated whole, and each work of art is meant to relate to one another. Maybe even bringing a new interpretation of how we see Vegas? Too lofty? Well, then just come and enjoy. All of the art is tasty.