It’s a Thursday night in Trifecta Gallery at the Arts Factory, where about 10 people sit on couches and chairs in a semicircle, surrounded by the vibrant, geometric, cut-foam works of local artist Philip Denker. Most of those in attendance munch on chocolate cake or sip drinks smuggled in from the neighboring Bar + Bistro. Seated next to a television cart is Kansas City-based artist (and Denker associate) Dylan Mortimer, who narrates as images of his pop-culture/religion mash-up art flash on the TV screen. The vibe is casual, the attendees are respectful and engaged—it’s about as good as you can hope for an art event in Las Vegas.
Trifecta owner Marty Walsh has been hosting these weekly evening events for several months at her gallery, promoting them collectively as “ONO! – One Night Only.” The primary goal was to provide an informal, social atmosphere to build relationships between art collectors—new and existing—and Trifecta’s artists. Beyond that, however, to also encourage patronage of the gallery outside of the two nights a month most businesses in the Arts District are filled with people: Preview Thursday and First Friday.
“I want to take Preview Thursday to the next level, where it’s every Thursday,” Walsh says.
To that end, Walsh teamed up with local website ArtsVegas.com to expand these events beyond the confines of Trifecta and into the rest of the 18b Arts District. Officially launched on December 12, Late Until Eight is meant to tie together multiple art events under a single banner, cross-promoting programming at different venues on the same night to create a walkable, “art progressive” in the 18b.
“The bottom line was that all the art galleries are competing on Thursday nights for the same 15 or 20 people,” says David Hardy, creative director of ArtsVegas. “[Walsh] said it would be great if we could do this as a progressive party where the schedules are transparent and each gallery staggers the programming so people can enjoy a bit of each gallery.”
The inaugural Late Until Eight night included a discussion at Inside Style—co-owned by 18b Neighborhood Association President Marc Abelman—about the importance of art in the home, followed by a talk by Walsh at Trifecta about her own process as an artist, and then a poster exhibition by Hardy’s College of Southern Nevada design students at Art Square. Walsh hopes the more intimate nature of Late Until Eight will set itself apart from events such as First Friday.
“This isn’t a sales-driven event,” she says. “It’s not about buying art. It’s about connecting with the artist and learning about an artist’s lifestyle.”
On December 19, Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art joined the promotion with a book signing by the photographers behind Fade to Gray, a book examining Vegas’ street art scene. Harris—who also hosts the 18b Speaker Series at her gallery every second Tuesday (see sidebar)—has typically hosted opening receptions and events at her gallery on odd Thursdays, so participating in Late Until Eight is a natural choice for her. However, she admits being concerned about arbitrarily opening late to lackluster traffic.
“We’re going to be involved one or two Thursdays a month,” Harris says. “I haven’t committed to being open every Thursday.”
She isn’t alone in that hesitancy. If the initial Late Until Eight offerings seem underwhelming, it’s not for a lack of trying on behalf of its organizers. Both Hardy and Walsh say their proposal hasn’t been met with universal enthusiasm by other galleries in the Arts District so far. But both remain optimistic about its potential.
“We’ve had a lack of response from a few other parties, but nothing negative,” Hardy says. “We’re hoping that now that we’ve announced it, other people will participate in it.”
Walsh knows that gaining traction for such a regular event will be an uphill battle. But she is more concerned with quality over quantity, and hopes that—like First Friday and Preview Thursday before it—Late Until Eight will grow into its own organically.
“Collectively, if we say ‘Come to 18b and look around,’ it gives people an opportunity to know on Thursday nights, that galleries will be open and you can plan a customizable, walkable evening in the 18b,” Walsh says. “I’m just going to do it, demonstrate, and hope people can follow.”