While being dubbed the Entertainment Capital of the World, Las Vegas isn’t known as a hub for high-brow culture. But hidden within the neon and glitz and on the outskirts of the Las Vegas Strip you can find a works of art, theater and dance all worthy of the international stage.
Even though visitors don’t flock to Sin City to take in these cultural attractions like they do shows such as “Phantom of the Opera, The Las Vegas Spectacular” at The Venetian Las Vegas or Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystere” at Treasure Island Las Vegas, these institutions keep the culture in the city.
In the Spring of 2012, you can add the Smith Center for the Performing Arts to the list of cultural institutions. The downtown facility will include four theaters in two buildings when completed. In the meantime, here’s a look at a handful of cultural institutions in Las Vegas.
Just three miles to the west of The Strip sits the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a 180-acre site dedicated to nature walks and displays. Built on the original water source for Las Vegas, called the Las Vegas Springs (Las Vegas is Spanish for The Meadows), the Springs Preserve includes colorful desert botanical gardens, museums, an outdoor concert venue and indoor theater, photo galleries depicting the history of Las Vegas and meandering trails that showcase wetlands. Just about every weekend, you can find events going on at the Springs Preserve that reveal everything from sustainability practices that fight for the future and historic events that show off the past.
The Springs Preserve is located at 333 S. Valley View Blvd. For more information, call 702.822.7700 or visit www.springspreserve.org.
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
Downtown Las Vegas may be home to the arts district and the infamous First Friday events, but the Bellagio Las Vegas is home to galleries dedicated to famous works of art worthy of a museum. Since opening in 1998, the gallery has presented exhibitions of artworks and objects drawn from internationally acclaimed museums and private collections, including “Classic Contemporary,” “American Modernism,” “The Impressionist Landscape: From Corot to Van Gogh,” “Fabergé: Treasures from the Kremlin” and “Picasso Ceramics.”
Beginning February 18, the gallery features “Claude Monet: Impressions of Light.” Organized in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), this landmark exhibition will feature works that illustrate the height of Claude Monet’s engagement with color and light. It will showcase 20 works by Monet, the founder of French Impressionist painting, as well as eight other canvases by Monet’s predecessors and contemporaries. All of these works are drawn from the collection of the MFA, which holds one of the largest groups of paintings by Claude Monet outside of Paris.
The gallery is open Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for Nevada residents and seniors 65 and older, $10 for students, teachers and military with valid ID. Children 12 and younger are free. Tickets and information are available by calling 702-693-7871.
Nevada Ballet Theatre
It’s a classic case of Vegas shows becomes cultural icon. Vassili Sulich, then the principal dancer with the Tropicana’s famed “Folies Bergere,” gathered a group of ballet dancers from Las Vegas shows and presented a series of dance concerts at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre, thus starting the Nevada Ballet Theatre in 1972. Now in its 39th season, Nevada Ballet Theatre performs throughout the year on the Strip and at UNLV while teaching children at its headquarters in Summerlin.
The ballet’s repertoire includes acclaimed 20th century master works from famous choreographers such as George Balanchine, Sir Frederick Ashton and Twyla Tharp, as well as contemporary choreographers Peter Anastos, Val Caniparoli, Bruce Steivel and James Canfield.
For more information, visit www.nevadaballet.com.
Las Vegas Philharmonic
Ever since the Fourth of July in 1998, the Las Vegas Philharmonic has filled the city with classical music presence and a new cultural dimension. While the philharmonic has filled a variety of venues, the music holds the group together.
The philharmonic performed for the openings of the Bellagio and Venetian, premiered “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” with guest conductor John Williams at a private party hosted by 20th Century Fox at Bally’s casino and played two musical performances at Fashion Show mall sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. Every year, they perform Classical Series featuring some of the best touring artists in the world; a Connoisseur Series that presents top soloists performing in some of the city’s most luxurious homes; a Pops Concert Series; and the ever-popular Fourth of July “Star Spangled Spectacular” concert. Since 2007, the philharmonic has been directed by music director and conductor David Itkin.
The philharmonic currently performs at the Artemus W. Ham Hall on the UNLV campus awaiting the opening of The Smith Center.
For more information, visit www.lvphil.com.
But wait, there’s more
We’d be remiss not to mention the artwork showcased at a couple more Las Vegas Strip properties in CityCenter and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Throughout the massive CityCenter landscape that spans 67 acres, artists including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella, Henry Moore, Richard Long, François-Xavier Lalanne and Isa Genzken, have sculptures, paintings and other works of art including large-scale installations in both interior and exterior locations.
At The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas the art program exists throughout the property including a digital art series featuring video works from the likes of Leo Villarreal, TJ Wilcox and Yoko Ono all the way down in the parking garage where artists Shepard Fairey, Keny Scharf and Retna have lent their work to what would be ordinary walls. The property also works with the Art Production Fund, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help artists realize difficult-to-produce works while expanding public participation and understanding of contemporary art, to Art-o-mat, where for $5 you can take home a piece of art, to the P3 Studio which features an Artist-in-Residence program, The Cosmopolitan is a living, breathing, ever-changing art piece.