In late February, Nicole Moffatt will become the exhibition coordinator and assistant to the curator for the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. It’s a managerial job that carries a lot of responsibility—from exhibition planning to helping develop a smartphone app.
At 26 years old, the Las Vegas native is emerging out of the blue as a player in the local art scene. Just four years ago, fresh off getting a degree in photography from the University of San Diego, she was shredding paper for MCQ Fine Art Advisory, and she credits MCQ’s principal Michele Quinn as being an invaluable mentor. “She helped me know what I know now,” she says. “I’d never be able to do what I’m doing without her.” Under Quinn’s guidance, and thanks to her own penchant for organization and willingness to soak up the intricacies of the art world, Moffatt quickly advanced to director of operations at MCQ. In that capacity, she served as director of Centerpiece Gallery at CityCenter, which offered shows that also combined national and local artists before closing in December.
One notable accomplishment you probably didn’t associate with Moffatt was the revamping of First Friday. When Zappos took over the monthly event last fall, it hired MCQ to curate it. Because of Moffatt’s love for the local art scene, Quinn gave her a larger role in the project. Moffatt dove in, choosing artists with an eye to the total experience of the festival. If you enjoyed Lisa Daitch’s paper kimonos at the December First Friday, for example, that was Moffatt’s doing. (Fendi noticed, and the luxury designer approached her about doing an in-store collaboration.) After establishing the curatorial direction, MCQ passed the job back to First Friday in December, but Moffatt plans to volunteer her time to further the First Friday cause. She has a lot of ideas for the monthly art festival that she’d like to implement, including multimedia projects and performance art pieces.
“She’s helping to build the community that we’ve already got started down here,” says local artist JW Caldwell, who is also MCQ’s head preparator. “She actually cares about making it look good, with quality artwork.” Moffatt dreams of following in Quinn’s footsteps, creating provocative collections that help develop a sense of community and place, including more public-art installations. She may even go back to school to get a master’s in public art to help make it happen. Meantime, she hopes to devote what’s left of her free time to the local art scene by arranging collaborations with artists and galleries. One such dream is to put pop-up shops and galleries downtown.
Most importantly, whatever Moffatt does, it’s going to happen in Las Vegas. “I’m hoping to stay here for pretty much all my life.”
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