Lyrical Landmarks

Three pieces to admire at Bellagio Gallery’s A Sense of Place

As a paid Strip attraction, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art has more resources to create an incredible show than most other efforts in Las Vegas. And with the help of some friends—the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego and MGM Resorts International—its current exhibition, A Sense of Place: Landscapes From Monet to Hockney, doesn’t disappoint. Indeed, A Sense of Place showcases quite a range: from the quiet naturalism of Monet to the brassy pop art of Lichtenstein. These pieces stood out for their spirited vision, blithe execution and high style.

Ben Aronson, “Over Madison” (2005, oil on panel, 12 x 12 inches, Collection Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). This is a lovely piece that takes a tall view overlooking the Big Apple’s Madison Avenue. It’s not just the hypnotic sense of verticality or probing depth of field that grabs us (though that’s part of it), but the tranquil insight he finds in the rush of it all. So quiet you could meditate over it.

Adolph Gottlieb, untitled (1967, acrylic on paper mounted to canvas

24 x 19 inches, Collection Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). Let’s be thankful to Gottlieb; his stripped-down, abstract expressionism created products that reflected a fresh, lively and uncluttered imagination—with his “Untitled” fully accentuating those attributes. A former resident of Tucson, Ariz., Gottlieb conveys an isolated environment with simple ideas of the sun and desert but by imbuing it with warm tones and smart arrangements, it’s both strikingly vast and immediate. Shame you can’t take it home.

Robert Therrien, untitled (“Blue Cloud”) (1992, enamel on steel and mixed media, 63 x 106 x 12 inches, Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego). This one is the people’s choice, in a way. More patrons were gathered around this than any other piece, and for good reason—Therrien’s giant, blue-enamel cloud with protruding, corroded faucets is an inspired work full of sly references, layered symbolism and gleeful irony. Best of all, it’s free of any shrill seriousness that can sometimes negate the impact of such ambitious ideas.

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The Man Who Stares at Himself

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The Man Who Stares at Himself

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The amygdala is a region of most vertebrate brains that acts as a gatekeeper to memory, assigning priority to memories on the basis of emotional intensity, and in the process molding our emotional reflexes. Anyone who has been in combat or a car accident should get the idea. But psychopaths, who suffer from a total deficit of amygdalal activity and its attendant empathy, never acquire such searing long-term memories.

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