“Culture-Less?” A Review on the Southern Museum of Fine Art

The city of Las Vegas is filled with ironies. Despite its glitz and glamour, it is considered to be a cultureless wasteland: all flash and no tact. While Las Vegas may have a variety of shows on the Strip that are hard to find elsewhere, Some might think that while Las Vegas has a variety of shows that are hard to find elsewhere, there are not as many things that one might call cultured or sophisticated, but this is not true.
Las Vegas is not without its appreciation for the fine arts. There is a large community of artists within the city who wish to show their creations to the world, and many of their works can be found within the Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art. A non-profit organization founded in 2003, the museum dedicates itself to providing visitors a wide range of works from living artists throughout Nevada and the world at large. People who are curious about what the artists of our time are creating will find a lot to appreciate here.

Admissions are only $3 per person or $2 per child. Visitors will find within the museum’s walls a 20,000 square foot exhibit and gallery with dozens of paintings as well as a variety of sculptures. Many are quite beautiful while some are quite grotesque (though perhaps no less sublime). Because the genres vary, visitors will find pictures of beautiful landscapes, people from many different cultural settings, animals roaming through their natural habitat or colorful swirls moving in different directions. As visitors enter the main gallery, a feeling of modernity will soon strike them as they look upon portraits of the Mona Lisa and Rembrandt while holding Starbucks coffee in styrofoam cups.

One picture that stands out is Ghost Horse 3 (pictured below) by artist Susan Strauss. The horse in the painting appears literally as a free spirit, wandering the wilderness at will and not bound by society’s restrictions.

Ghost Horse 3 by Susan Obermeyer Strauss in Colorado

Another painting that quickly catches the attention is Vital Force by Selena Valenti who lives and works in Nevada. A surrealist image that seems pretty grotesque at first combines vital organs of the human body with growing plant life. For example, a human spine drawn as a plant’s stem grows from entrail roots and sprouts bloodied tissue from a human heart like petals.

Vital Force by Selena Valenti in Nevada

The halls are long and easy to get lost in. The themes throughout the gallery are endless, and all of the artwork comes from living artists. The art museum is a museum as well as a shop. Many of the works are actually for sale and cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

As a cultural haven that makes art accessible to citizens and tourists alike, the city has
become an important setting for many within the international artistic community. As a lifelong
citizen of Las Vegas who has seen the city from inside out, I know that we are not the neon-littered cultureless wasteland which many outsiders perceive it to be. Behind the materialistic front on which our economy runs is a vibrant heart and soul in which a talented community strives to find its place among the great artists of the world. The Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art will take you behind the cultureless façade and show visitors what our city really has to offer.


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