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Desert Companion

Art: LVAM gives it the ol' college try

If art can sleep, there’s a lot of it snoozing peacefully in the secure storage room at the former Las Vegas Art Museum space in the Sahara West Library. The museum has been in hibernation since it closed in February 2009 after chronically low membership and dwindling donations gradually shut the contemporary art space’s doors.

Now the museum is waking up — and heading to UNLV. In partnership with the College of Fine Arts, the Las Vegas Art Museum will start sharing its collection on campus this spring. Where? Everywhere. The idea for the partnership originally developed between Nancy Strouse, executive director of the UNLV Foundation, and Patrick Duffy, president of the board of the Las Vegas Art Museum.

“We saw a great opportunity in taking what otherwise would have been a dormant collection in storage forever and a day, and make it part of the university, both as an academic and visual benefit — not only for UNLV, but for the wider community,” says Duffy.

You’ll start to see the fruition of the partnership in late May, when UNLV will put on a small preview show to hint at the art to come. And there’s a lot of it to come — about 200 pieces need to be accommodated. Where to put it all? That’s part of the job of Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery director Jerry Schefcik, who will curate the pieces, whether that means plucking choice pieces for selective exhibits or tying them into ongoing shows at Donna Beam or the Barrick Museum.

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Schefcik hasn’t had a chance to see the entire LVAM collection in storage yet, but when he does, he’ll have some talking to do — with the art.

“I have an idea of what the work comprises, but it’s not the same as seeing everything in person,” he says. “When that happens, the pieces will talk to you. They have something to say. Whether individually or as a group, that’s what I’m looking forward to — that conversation.”

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