So many enticing exhibitions and events to look forward to in the coming months as Vegas artists cool down from the summer heat and get to work. Three cultural gatherings (London Biennale, Off the Strip, the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival) have stirred the creative community into action, pushing artists to do their best work. As a result, the fall is jam-packed with notable shows. Mark your calendar with the following:
Video Stars: This year’s Off the Strip New Genre Festival takes place Aug. 31-Sept. 2 and has expanded to three venues—Contemporary Arts Center (in the Arts Factory), and Multiplexer and 5th Wall Gallery (both in Emergency Arts). While international artists such as Poland’s Slawomir Milewski will be on hand to discuss their experimental films and performance pieces, this event is also a chance for hot young local artists—Yasmina Chavez, Toshi McSwain, Jo Russ—to show off what they do. LasVegasCAC.org.
Going Ape: The London Biennale’s satellite performance event in Nevada took place in July and earned raves despite involving, um, gorilla suits. On Sept. 6-29 the (slightly more formal) exhibition is to go up on the walls of Contemporary Arts Center. Seven up-and-coming Vegas artists—including Eri King and Noelle Garcia—are participating in this show, which involves photos and videos documenting the earlier summer performances. LondonBiennale.tk
Machine Head: Brian Henry spent more than a year building seven statistical yet colorful electronic installations for his upcoming Trifecta Gallery show, Machina ex Machina—Mens et Manus: New Parametric Works (Sept. 6-26). Henry has written computer programs that make art in simultaneously diverse and controlled ways. His “mortal” machines rely on motors to push wooden and aluminum components into thousands of unique positions. His “immortal” machines, meanwhile, boast projectors, LED screens and monitors “to render an infinite number of unique artworks.” This isn’t video-installation art, though. Henry’s machines create original works in real time. TrifectaGallery.com.
Depicting the Ultimate Power Couple: For the month of September, street artist Enrique Nevarez re-emerges after a long period of silence with a Blackbird Studios show, Camelot, an exploration of the JFK mythology. A big history buff, Nevarez has long been fascinated and intrigued by Jackie O and the Kennedy saga. In 10 detailed renderings, Nevarez challenges and addresses the powerful narrative of the ultimate American power couple—posing before various backgrounds—in a series of stencil-heavy mixed-media pieces. BlackBirdStudiosLV.com.
Collection Notice: The Las Vegas Art Museum (LVAM) may have shut its doors three years ago, but its collection lives on thanks to a new partnership with UNLV’s Barrick Museum. The latter is conducting a special preview reception at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 18. The plan, according to UNLV’s College of Fine Arts, is to exhibit the extensive LVAM collection throughout the UNLV campus and the broader Las Vegas community. Tickets to the preview are $100 and can be reserved by calling 895-2787.
Thriller: Giovanni Morales is quickly becoming the new pop-art powerhouse of Las Vegas. He’s regarded for his beautifully rendered paintings that draw on “low” culture—comic books, commercial advertising and collage. He creates iconography and images by adding and subtracting paint layers. Morales’ next Brett Wesley Gallery show, New Thrills, runs Sept. 6-Oct. 27. Check out the pieces that mash-up disparate comics characters such as Batman sidekick Robin with Jack Kirby’s red prehistoric beastie Devil Dinosaur. Eye-poppingly good. BrettWesleyGallery.com
Book It: This year the Las Vegas Valley Book Festival selected Navajo artist, reformed skate punk, tattooist and Las Vegan Landis Bahe to create original artworks for the 2012 festival. His three acrylic paintings (see one on Page 94) are being used to create branding materials (posters, website) for Southern Nevada’s premier literary festival. Moreover, his works will also become part of the city of Las Vegas’ permanent art collection. Overall, Bahe’s art—whether we’re talking tattoos, skateboard designs, sculptures or paintings—always reflect his Navajo culture. His latest works will be unveiled the week of the book fest (Nov. 1-3) at the Historic Fifth Street School. VegasValleyBookFestival.org
Photographic Finish: Picture-snappers are taking Vegas by storm this fall. Running now through Oct. 12, Mikayla Whitmore’s Forever No More at Winchester Cultural Center Gallery relies on overlapping yet Photoshop-free images of moody landscapes and interiors to arrive at what she calls “intertwine[d] obscure moments that attempt to form a memory.” Andrew Sea James has a show of new images at Kleven Contemporary during October, featuring haunted yet simmeringly colorful portraits and roadside-scapes of the Southwest and beyond. Meanwhile, Javier Sanchez and Marlene Siu combine forces for Relative Perspectives, a lightbox-involved exhibit that explores images of diverse people from the Las Vegas community. The show runs Oct. 15-Nov. 30 with a 6 p.m. Oct. 26 reception at the Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery.
Bad Boy Artist: Whenever we hear or read about Jevijoe Vitug’s insane artistic endeavors, we get nervous. You can practically see the WTF expressed in our furrowed brows. C’mon, really—drinking your own urine and calling it performance art? Tying a bunch of laces to a giant ball of shoes and rolling the whole mess along the Strip? Yep, Vitug is definitely a local art renegade. But in How To’s, which opens Nov. 13 at Winchester Cultural Center Gallery, the Filipino artist will present new paintings devoted to the immigrant experience in Las Vegas. These works are, according to a news release, “done in a style inspired by Early Asian paintings that connect [Vitug] to his cultural roots.” Although this show will lack Vitug’s notorious hunger for controversy, the awe of what he’s accomplished with this series should be on full display.