Hickey does Vegas

Las Vegas Diaspora: The Emergence of Contemporary Art From the Neon Homeland,” curated by Dave Hickey. Las Vegas Art Museum, Las Vegas, NV. Through Dec. 30. Travelling to the Laguna Art Museum in March

The exhibition features 26 artists who earned degrees in studio art at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). All of the featured artists studied with Las Vegas critic and curator Dave Hickey between 1990 and 2001, when Hickey taught art theory and criticism in the Department of Art at UNLV. (Hickey now serves in the English Department at UNLV as Schaeffer Professor of Modern Letters.) In the LA Times, Christopher Knight reports. “This metropolis is a distinctly American city, where modern art ideas originally forged in a European crucible often have the fit of a delicate glass slipper jammed onto the ungainly foot of an ugly stepsister. In that regard, Las Vegas is the new Los Angeles. Not so long ago L.A. was the place where culture was said to be mostly found in yogurt. Vegas, though, is still the kind of place where ‘Swan Lake’ is assumed to be performed as a topless revue, save for the incongruous ostrich feathers. ‘Las Vegas Diaspora’ takes that no-class, low-art slur and wisely runs with it, turning most every imaginable sow’s ear into a startling silk purse. The aesthetic refinement is downright extreme. Dave Hickey, who was guest curator for the show (his wife, Libby Lumpkin, is the museum’s director), came to the forefront of American art criticism — snagging a MacArthur prize in the process — nearly 15 years ago, when he audaciously argued that, of all things, beauty would become the art-issue of the 1990s. It did. The topic assumes an unexpected tone of militancy in ‘Las Vegas Diaspora.’ Beauty isn’t offered as some timid escape from society’s crushing woes, but as a sharp rebuke: Not that; this!” Read more.

Participating artists include: Rev. Ethan Acres (Muscle Shoals, AL); Robert Acuna (Los Angeles); Philip Argent (Santa Barbara); Aaron Baker (Chicago); Tim Bavington (Las Vegas); Thomas Burke (New York); Jane Callister (Santa Barbara); Bradley Corman (Vancouver, Canada); Jacqueline Ehlis (Portland); Curtis Fairman (Las Vegas); Gajin Fujita (Los Angeles); Sush Machida Gaikotsu (Las Vegas); James Gobel (San Francisco); Sherin Guirguis (Los Angeles); Jack Hallberg (Las Vegas); James Hough (Las Vegas); Shawn Hummel (Las Vegas); Carrie Jenkins (Los Angeles); Angela Kallus (Las Vegas); Wayne Littlejohn (Las Vegas); Victoria Reynolds (Los Angeles); David Ryan (Las Vegas); Jason Tomme (New York); Sean Slattery (Las Vegas); Yek (Singapore and Las Vegas); and Almond Zigmund (New York).

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