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Desert Companion

Portraits of artists

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Andrew Kiraly
Christopher Smith

Andrew Kiraly, Editor

This issue marks the sixth year of our “Ones to Watch” feature, where we profile up-and-coming talent on the Vegas culturescape. For this year’s package, we looked back in order to look forward, tapping previous Ones to Watch honorees to see who’s blipping on their radar these days. Their selections didn’t disappoint. Starting on page 75, you’ll meet an artist whose photography explores memory by cleverly manifesting its very tricks and distortions; a young dancer who switches gears from jazz to ballet to hip-hop with alarming ease; a TV personality who’s building a talk show by tapping deep roots in the valley’s entertainment community; a singer with a silken voice and a strong head for business; and a theater director who wants to provoke as much as entertain.

Reconnecting with our Ones to Watch honor roll also gave us an opportunity to check our track record: How many of the artists we’ve profiled over the years have blown up, dried out, faded away? I’m proud to say the record reflects our exceedingly good taste. A random selection: Lauren Adkins (2013), the conceptual artist best known for marrying a cardboard cutout of Twilight heartthrob Edward Cullen, is teaching and producing art in Los Angeles. Young violinist CJ Patton (2011) is a science undergrad at UC Santa Barbara, but still makes time to play and perform. Dancer and choreographer Bernard Gaddis (2010) has continued to develop the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater into a scene stalwart (check out LVCDT’s Ella Fitzgerald tribute, “Simply Ella,” Nov. 13 at The Smith Center). And Peter Bastien (2013), the chef mastermind behind The Bronze Cafe, continues to serve cuisine with a culinary pedigree that belies its modest home in a community center cafe.

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You’ll notice that some of these creators have used Vegas as a launch site for what promise to be multi-stage careers; others have stuck around to not just build a career in Las Vegas, but to build up Vegas itself as a viable place to actually have a creative career. Our fall culture issue always marks a good place to dogear the page and think about what we can all do to make Las Vegas an attractive place for artists and creatives. Supporting the arts, for one? Obvs! Which is astoundingly easy with our sixth annual fall culture guide (p. 74), packed with events well into the new year.

Of course, day-to-day Las Vegas can be a cultural spectacle all its own. That’s what we capture in our “24 Hours” feature (p. 90), a kaleidoscopic cross-section of a full day (and night) in the life of Las Vegas. We conscripted writers, artists, poets and photographers to spend an assigned hour of a chosen day somewhere in Las Vegas, with the goal of creating a jigsaw panorama worthy of the town. From rush hour to after-hours, from dayclubs to dive bars, from Strip life to the swap meet, these 24 slices of Vegas life will, I hope, intrigue and inspire you. (And, man, wait ’til you see what an artist saw at the Double Down.)

If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!

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