A special exhibition featuring the works of late artist and beloved UNLV professor, Rita Deanin Abbey, will be showcased and available to the public beginning November 4 in the lobby of the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall.
In collaboration with the Rita Deanin Abbey Art Museum, the exhibit will include 12 pieces from multiple series of Abbey’s extensive catalogue of works, including Early Figure Series, Oil on canvas, 1979-1981; Montenegro Series, Monoprints on Hahnemühle German Etching paper, 1990; and Drawings from the Model, Conte, graphite, ink wash on paper, 1974-1983.
“Rita was loved by so many and her contributions to Las Vegas includes all who she impacted at UNLV, but also extends far beyond this college campus,” said Lori Cobo, executive director of the UNLV Performing Arts Center. “Her impact as an artist, as a teacher, as a mentor, as a friend and as a mother lives on through her art at her own museum. Now, we’re thrilled to showcase even just a small sampling of her art to patrons of the PAC. Some will be reminded of her brilliance, and I’m certain this exhibit will introduce Rita to many – creating new fans of her stunning work.”
Abbey, who passed away in 2021, served as a professor in the art department at UNLV for 22 years. She was a multidisciplinary artist known for her painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, porcelain enamel fired on steel, stained glass, and computer art. Abbey’s work is known for her abstract expressionism, figures, landscapes, and non-objective subject matter.
About her work, Abbey said in 2003, “The infinite wonder of nature has had the greatest influence on my work. I have explored desert landscapes and have been deeply affected by rock formations, vistas, sunsets, plant and wildlife, rivers, the colors, and textures of secret canyons. These places communicate and resonate with my own nature.”
“Abbey used various aspects of nature to augment, on a subconscious level, her creative process. Developing her theory of perception, she experienced the line, pattern, color, space, light, form, and texture of geological formations," said Katherine Hough, Rita Deanin Abbey Art Museum curator. “Such changing atmospheric conditions as rain, storms, wind, light, and clouds affected her visual development and became integral to her work. Her observations and experiences enabled her to recreate the spirit and essence of the desert in abstract compositions. Her impressions of the environment, whether microcosmic or macrocosmic, are reflected in her work by her concern for detail, contrast, and unity.”
The special exhibition at Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall will be free and open to the public before, during intermissions, and immediately following performances and concerts at the venue through May 2023. Additional public viewing schedules will be announced at a later date.
More of Abbey’s art can be seen at the Rita Deanin Abbey Art Museum by appointment only. For more information about Abbey and her work, and to book a museum tour, visit ritadeaninabbeymuseum.org.
About the PAC
The UNLV Performing Arts Center is the original home for the arts in Southern Nevada; it opened in 1976 and celebrates its 46th season in 2022-2023. It hosts a variety of performances and events and is home to self-produced events plus productions of the Nevada Conservatory Theatre, UNLV School of Music, UNLV Dance, and the Las Vegas Men’s Chorus, among many other community arts presenters. The UNLV PAC also hosts various Clark County School District fine arts festivals and concerts.