“Please do not touch the artwork” signs might dot museums and galleries, but Laura Kimpton wants you to embrace the tangibility of her work.
One of Burning Man’s most recognizable artists, Kimpton is known for her massive metal typography. You might recall seeing her “MOM” or “BELIEVE” pieces on social media after they were photographed by hordes of Burners at the annual event held in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
“I believe art should be experiential,” the Bay Area-based creative says. “Art doesn’t have to be so sacred. It’s not something that you have to put in a safe and that you can never touch.”
And right now as you’re reading this, there are likely a number of selfie-snapping tourists climbing all over a Kimpton piece on the Las Vegas Strip, as her letters spelling “LOVE” were installed at The Palazzo in early October. While the artist has shown smaller-scale works at galleries over the years, she says this is the first time her larger-than-life words have found an indoor home.
The four red letters, each covered in cutouts shaped like birds, landed at the hotel’s atrium after being featured at Life Is Beautiful in September. “LOVE” could return to the music and art festival each year, on loan from The Palazzo. The deal marks the first time a piece from the festival’s art program has migrated outside of the footprint to another Las Vegas location. It is also the first time one of the featured works has been sold to a Strip resort.
“It was a great partnership. Now that piece is center stage at a top hotel in Vegas,” says Life Is Beautiful chief experience officer Ryan Doherty, who brokered the deal with Kimpton and The Venetian and Palazzo. “We look to partner with all of the major properties [on] art collaborations each year. It’s a great way to tie in the city to [Life Is Beautiful], and the art gets to live on in Vegas long after the festival is over.” (Doherty is co-owner of WENDOH Media, which owns Vegas Seven.)
So what makes Kimpton’s art so intriguing? The artist believes it’s a lack of uncertainty, which some might say keeps people from appreciating fine art in a gallery or museum context. There’s no pretension with Kimpton’s typography, and any meaning behind the words can be left for the viewer to decide.
“You know what [the letters] are. There’s no confusion about what it is,” she says. “It really hits home for them, the words I have chosen.” Kimpton was expecting some negative reactions with “MOM” at Burning Man, but was met with quite the opposite. “You’re at Burning Man, partying your butt off, and then there’s ‘MOM,’” she says. “People said, ‘Maybe I should remember that I have a mom, and maybe party a little bit less than I would have.”
Kimpton believes “LOVE” is a perfect fit for both Las Vegas and The Palazzo, which continues a recent trend of Strip companies acquiring art made by Burning Man artists. “Vegas is taking some stands in contemporary art,” she says of the “Bliss Dance” sculpture at MGM Resorts International’s Park.
As for what she thinks “LOVE” will inspire in Vegas? “You’ll have more weddings booked,” Kimpton says.