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Taking a tumble: Chris Bauder at the government center rotunda

Artwork by Chris Bauder

Imagine a riot of these guys above, 40 or 50 of ’em, bunched artfully into the vast rotunda gallery of the Clark County Government Center. “The tumbleweed was once a living organism that uproots itself, and, in our sense of the meaning, dies,” says artist Chris Bauder, who titled his tumbleweed tableau The Gathering.

But, once dead, they transcend this ephemerality and enjoy a second life bouncing across the landscape, picking up and redistributing stuff — seeds, objects. That’s how they roll; they’re wonderfully mytho-American in their absolute freedom. “These weeds are given free range to travel like nomads throughout the desert, spinning through the flats, settling wherever the wind takes them,” Bauder says in a press release. (He gathered these samples while going to and from Los Angeles.) Though their travels may not have a point, they do have a purpose: “The idea that tumbleweeds both collect and disperse objects fascinates me on many levels.”

Then Bauder gives them a third act: “They take on a new life as I will coat them in latex paint and glorify them as art objects.” What’s more, he’ll dramatize their redistributive function by burying his brand of distinctive objects, sculpted from layers of latex paint, within the weed mound, enigmatic items picked up from who knows where. Now, imagine once more a bunch of them massed in a gallery, and there you have it: a fresh take on time, freedom and life expectancy.

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The Gathering is on display now, in case you happen into the government center to pull a permit or harangue a commissioner. Or you can wait until the opening reception on Friday, March 18, 6-8p; Bauder will give a talk at 6:30. For more, go to

Scott Dickensheets is a Las Vegas writer and editor whose trenchant observations about local culture have graced the pages of publications nationwide.