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The One Where We Remembered CityCenter's Art Collection Is Hidden in Plain Sight

January 2, 2012 at 3:33 PM | by | Comment (1)

Forty million dollars can buy you a lot of art. And to quote one of artist Jenny Holzer's Truisms, "money creates taste." The CityCenter Las Vegas Fine Art Collection aimed to make a splash and a forceful statement by positioning a tour of the modern art world around its properties. Sixteen artists in varied CityCenter locations and millions of dollars invested. Yet, many visitors will have walked by and never noticed these creations, or realized the fame or international impact of the artists chosen to be included in this grand experiment.

There are plenty of art world Blue Chip names: Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Julian Schnabel. But none of their work carries the impact of a Jenny Holzer installation hidden in Aria's north valet pick-up area. If you go downstairs to the Haze nightclub, you'll see the video reflected in the windows to your left. If you are not going to the club or to pick up your car, you'll never know its there. Which is a shame, because its the crown jewel of the whole collection -- in this writer's opinion, at least. Brilliantly presented and utterly hypnotic. A streaming continuum of thought provoking texts. The display and lighting changes bring variety to the eye, as you stare intently for the next round of insights to appear.

This video installation includes 200 of Holzer's Truisms. Aphorisms, wisdoms, fragments. Good examples can be found in this list. A number of these phrases are melancholy, bitter and completely contrary to the Las Vegas landscape in which they are placed. But, it also fits perfectly. It's a true shame that it is hidden downstairs, though if placed in the lobby you'd probably create a mass pool of tranced-out viewers reading along.

Like the Holzer installation, a few of CityCenter's exhibit pieces are not immediately obvious to the visitor. Anthony Gormley's sculpture is described as located in the "VIP West Oculus." Next to the Aria buffet might be more helpful. And even then you'd probably not spot it. Others, such as Richard Long's pieces at Veer only really work at certain times of the day. Longs' enormous pieces are best appreciated at night. An advertised Robert Rauschenberg piece was moved when Vdara built Market Cafe and now resides in the Bellagio's collection.

Seeing all the current art takes you to Aria, Vdara, the Mandarin Oriental, and the exteriors of Crystals as well as to the Veer Towers. Go early. It's quiet, empty and people are nice and friendly. Particularly the staff who are used to seeing people on this artistic treasure hunt. Some know where the art is. Some most certainly don't. Make it an adventure. And, this gallery will give you a visual guide to help see all 16 art works:

You can pick up a map and brochure at the Aria concierge desk. There is also an iPhone App that will guide you around the collection. This writer being a Droid user resorted to the analog method of ticking off the pieces he saw with a good, old-fashioned pen on paper. But, maybe the app will help uncover the mystery artist behind the latest addition to the collection. This sculpture resided in the small park outside Vdara. If you know, please post in the comments below.

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My Favorite Pieces

...were the Christopher Walken prints that disappeared quite a bit ago from ARIA. At the time, a reader tweeted us that they had been vandalized and removed for restoration. Sad face.

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