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Out of Darkness

The uncertain future of the Las Vegas Art Museum collection now secure through new partnership with College of Fine Arts.

Arts & Culture  |  May 3, 2012  |  By Jerry Schefcik

Securely stored in a vault on the opposite side of town sits the collection of the now-shuttered Las Vegas Art Museum (LVAM). Its closure in 2009 had banished the young but substantive collection to darkness.

Now, thanks to a new partnership with the College of Fine Arts, those works are no longer awaiting an unknown and undetermined future.

The LVAM had been the only local, public repository for work produced by artists who have lived or are now living in Las Vegas. And those works were donated by some of Las Vegas' storied citizens and generous collectors. It represents the development of the visual arts in Southern Nevada. It is especially notable for its works by UNLV graduates who have gone on to impressive careers.

The members of the museum board wanted to see the collection used as an educational tool at all levels and as a cultural resource. UNLV already has trained personnel with the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery and the Barrick Museum to document, install, and care for it. And the university's community outreach efforts would allow for works to be shown in venues throughout the city in addition to easily accessed locations on campus.

In December, the Marjorie Barrick Museum was moved into the College of Fine Arts. The timing couldn't be better. As part of the college, new life is being infused into the Barrick, and its programming will be done in tandem with the Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery.

In the coming months look for a regeneration in the Barrick's offerings with exhibitions from the LVAM collection, contemporary art, and a refinement in the presentation of the Mannetta Braunstein Pre-Columbian artifacts, all of which will be presented in a reconfigured exhibit hall. The Barrick will be getting a new life and a new focus as it settles in as the new home of the LVAM collection.

An art museum is a vital component in a flourishing community. It functions as a place to experience the arts of a city, a place where school children can go for first-hand encounters with works of art, a place for residents to frequent, a place for tourists to visit, a place where all can be educated and uplifted.

UNLV Graduates in the LVAM Collection

Philip Argent, '94 MFA

"Think of Argent's deliriously beautiful, subtly toxic paintings as the visual equivalent of computer viruses that scramble files in ways that make more sense than the originals." -- Los Angeles Times

Argent's hard-edged, abstract paintings have been exhibited at venues such as Deitch Projects in New York, the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, and the Cranbrook Art Museum in Michigan, and internationally at galleries and museums in Berlin; Zurich; Turin, Italy; Tenerife, Spain; and Kwangju, South Korea. Two of his works are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is a lecturer at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Tim Bavington, '99 MFA

"Chromophobes -- people who hate and fear color -- should steer clear of this optically ravishing exhibition." -- New York Times
Tracks from bands such as The Darkness, Oasis, and The Rolling Stones become vibrant bands of color in Bavington's works. His method designates sound to color and composition, but the paintings are not literal translations. Bavington's work has been exhibited widely and his works are included in the public collections across the country, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York. He recently branched out into large-scale sculpture with an 80-foot-long piece at the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas.

Jane Callister, '94 MFA

"Jane Callister makes paintings that are about the act of painting, the consequences of the action, and the movement of paint itself." -- Pittsburgh CityPaper

Primarily a painter, Callister also incorporates sculpture and found objects into her works. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Texas as well as the First Prague Biennial, Czech Republic; Frankfurt Airfair, Germany; Jette Rudolf Gallery in Berlin; Anton Weller in Paris; Umea University, Sweden; and at the Cell, London. She is an art professor at the UC Santa Barbara.

Victoria Reynolds, '93 MFA

"Reynolds' masterful precision in rendering raw flesh and viscera presents a close-up view of the undeniable life force that allows our existence." -- Art Ltd. magazine

Reynolds' paintings have drawn comparisons to the old masters of the still life. Her work has been shown at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, Calif.; Jones Center for Contemporary Art, Austin, Texas; The Jewish Museum of San Francisco; and at the Stockholm Art Fair in Sweden.

David Ryan, '03 MFA

"Ryan's diabolically beautiful wall-relief is sculpture at its space-saving best: Bold enough to fill the whole room with its powerful pleasures yet compact enough to hang over the sofa." -- Los Angeles Times

Ryan gleans inspiration from the slick colors and lines of cars, electronic gadgets, and household appliances. His wall sculptures have been exhibited widely across the United States in addition to solo exhibitions in Paris, New York, Washington D.C., Dallas, and Los Angeles.