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2013 Fall Culture Guide, Part I

Is it us, or is there a little bit of cultural renaissance going on up in here? The Smith Center is hitting its stride, the downtown arts scene is sizzling with fresh energy, UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute continues to serve up big brains and thinky discussions, and it seems there’s now a nosh festival for every food group. But for us, the strongest evidence is in the pages ahead, where we packed more than 75 must-go events this season, from concerts and plays to festivals and discussions. Hold on to this issue — and stay cultured through the end of the year. Venues

Concerts & bands

Sponsor Message

Sept. 19

Aidez-moi! La cuisine est fou!

To say that Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu was inspired when he arrived in Paris in the 1920s is a wild understatement. More accurately, he was happily besieged by new forms and ideas: jazz! avant-garde theater! garçonnes! Martinu himself flew into a frenzy of creativity, penning three works in 1927, including his last and best, the ballet suite “La Revue de Cuisine.” A literal kitchen-table drama, the ballet features common cooking utensils embroiled in romantic intrigues — pots and lids and dishcloths flirting, falling for each other and, of course, fighting. Quelle cray-cray! Musically, “La Revue” is hardly so homely as a kitchen setting suggests, as Martinu explores the dynamics and possibilities of jazz and popular dance. In this performance, acclaimed Las Vegas violinist Wei-Wei Le jazzes it up with UNLV faculty and other guest talent. Sounds like a recipe for a wonderful night of music. (AK) 7:30p, $25, Doc Rando Recital Hall at UNLV

Sept. 21

Youth gone mild

Sponsor Message

Directed by Oscar Carrescia, the young talents of the Las Vegas Camerata Orchestra will produce the sounds of the season — literally: They’re performing “The Four Seasons,” Vivaldi’s set of baroque violin concertos that recall an era before global climate change turned Earth into wildfire hurricane soup. The star violinists include Genevieve Dube, spring; De Ann Letourneau, summer; Laraine Kaizer-Viazovtsev, autumn; and Patrick Hsieh, winter. Keep an eye on these rising stars — violinist and music instructor Carrescia has been quietly cultivating classical talent in the valley for more than 25 years. Our forecast: a fine concert. (AK) 2p, $10-$12, Winchester Cultural Center

Sept. 22-23

A Starr-y night

Ringo Starr has been pretty busy since he played in that one band that had that hit song about wanting to hold your hand in a yellow submarine or something. Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band is a supergroup whose membership rotates every year and has included rock-pantheon godlets such as Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter and Peter Frampton (but also at one time included Richard Marx). This year’s incarnation features Steve Lukather, formerly of Toto; Richard Page of Mr. Mister; and Todd Rundgren. Sic your ticket-sniping bot on the Internet right now — this is reportedly the only U.S. stop on the band’s 2013 world tour. (AK) 8p, $70, The Pearl in The Palms

Sponsor Message

Sept. 26-28

A naked voxing match

It was a rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas” to end all renditions of “The 12 Days of Christmas”: In 1998, a fresh-faced a cappella group from Indiana University turned their performance of the holiday classic into pop culture trail mix, mashing in everything from “I Have a Little Dreidel” to Toto’s “Africa.” Virtually overnight, Straight No Chaser went from clever college songsters to international vocal superheroes. Their Vegas stint is more than a mere handful of concerts; superfans who spring for the $849 platinum package get nothing less than the “Chaser summit,” a three-day, four-concert a cappella orgy, an unrelenting and soul-consuming immersion in all things Straight No Chaser, including exclusive cocktail parties with the group, buffet passes and concert seats so close to the stage you just might get a quivering larynx in the face. (AK) 8p, $43.50-$93.50, The Pearl in The Palms

Music of the heart (and other organs)

What happened to romance? It’s probably buried around here somewhere, underneath all these sexts, naughty Snapchat pics and Craiglist NSA hookups. You’ll have an easier time finding it at the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s opening night concert of its masterworks series, “Operatic Love,” featuring arias from opera masters from Puccini to Mozart, as well as orchestral show-stoppers from Verdi and Strauss. Case Scaglione conducts, with Suzanne Vinnik as soprano and Cody Austin as tenor. Feel the love yet? (AK) Pre-concert conversation 6:45p, concert 7:30p, $25-$94, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

Oct. 5

You’re a total (picnic) basket case

By October, the Las Vegas Valley has cooled down to a reasonable 127 degrees, and that means — the moment we’ve all been waiting for! — it’s finally safe to eat macaroni salad outdoors. You know what else goes nicely with tolerable fall weather? Jazz. Haul your basket and blanket to Winchester’s annual Jazz Picnic, featuring hot local acts and cool, macaroni salad-friendly weather. (AK) 5p, free, Winchester Cultural Center back lawn


Oct. 9

Look! He just wrote another!

In the time it takes for you to read this blurb, Conor Oberst probably wrote seven songs. The Nebraska-born singer/songwriter who defined “the Omaha sound” — it’s clever! it’s emo! you’re crying! you’re dancing! — is renowned for being alarmingly prolific. And restless: Oberst doesn’t write songs for his bands; Oberst forms his bands to contain the songs he continually writes. For this concert, he’ll join The Felice Brothers, whose cryptic, moody jams sound like honky tonk songs you hear in half-remembered dreams. In the time it takes them to perform this concert, Oberst will totally probably write 700 songs. (AK) 8p, $30, House of Blues at Mandalay Bay

Oct. 12

Foot fetish

That quintessential silver screen duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had all the right moves, turning dance into a wordless fantasia of infatuation and romantic intoxication and *melts into steaming love-puddle*. Inspired by their sweet moves, in “Dancing & Romancing,” the Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates the spirit of 1930s Broadway and Hollywood, highlighting the music of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin. (AK) 7:30p, $25-$94, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

Oct. 12

Call it gypsycore

Before they became the darlings of transcontinentalist hipsters, Gogol Bordello got their start playing gypsy tunes at Russian weddings. It’s an apt beginning for a band whose raucous, exuberant spirit is preoccupied with new beginnings and raw possibilities. Not that this is the kind of band you want to cerebralize about — rather, a Gogol Bordello show puts other body parts to work: legs and feet, hips and torsos — all that’s needed for a night of frenzied gypsy-punk flamenco-moshing. (AK) 8p, $25, The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan

Oct. 13

[initiate Grobanite love protocol]

For all his mainstream appeal and blockbuster success, it might be easy to write off Josh Groban as another entry in the classipop warbler category — that is, if the critics themselves didn’t find so much to like in his voice, variously described — self-deprecatingly by Groban himself — as a “tenor in training” or a “baritone with some high notes up my sleeve.” Critics admire his power and restraint; Grobanites, as they’re called, like the way their hearts slow-motion explode into pink butterfly candy confetti when he sings to them, “In my eyes you do no wrong / I’ve loved you for so long.” *heartflutter* (AK) 8p, $57.50-$107.50, MGM Grand Garden Arena

Oct. 21

They write music for ENTIRE PLANETS

Kronos: It’s no coincidence the name sounds both mighty and mysterious. This is no staid little string quartet mincing around with “Ave Maria.” The Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet doesn’t so much play music as perform moving, evocative soundscapes in collaboration with many world-renowned composers — and by commission from some unlikely institutions, such as NASA, which commissioned Kronos’ 2002 “Sun Rings,” nothing less than a deeply rousing ode to humanity on planet Earth. On this night, they’ll premiere new work from Philip Glass, as well as work from Laurie Anderson, Bryce Dessner of The National and composer Clint Mansell. (AK) 7:30p, $26-$125, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

Oct. 23

One jazzy ladies’ night

Here’s a ladies night that doesn’t involve appletinis and guys in Ed Hardy shirts flogging your psyche with rancid pick-up lines: “Ladies of Jazz” showcases the contributions that women have made to the genre, featuring 2011 Grammy’s “Best New Artist” Esperanza Spalding, Grammy-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, first place Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition winner Gretchen Parlato, composer and educator Gerri Allen and sax star Tia Fuller. Leading all this talent is Dee Dee Bridgewater, three-time Grammy winner and a vocal jazz powerhouse. (AK) 7:30p, $26-$99, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

It’s not a festival, it’s a mothership

Sniff, sniff. All we ever wanted was a Coachella-type music festival to call our own. Vegoose was a blast — don’t deny it, we saw you rockin’ out in your possibly ironic Daisy Dukes to Buckethead in 2006! — but alas, all good things, etc. Now comes Life is Beautiful, a music festival so polished, postured, styled and coiffed, you’d think it was an elaborate Apple ad. With mothership headliners like The Killers and Beck, superchefs like Hubert Keller and Tom Colicchio — not to mention an entire spinoff universe of bonus events and pop-ups — Life Is Beautiful looks to be muscling into the Las Vegas culturescape as a kind of institutional banner event that marks a maturing city. Our widdle city is all grown up! (AK) Start times vary, $159.50-349.50, downtown Las Vegas,

Nov. 2

Well, aren’t you just Mr. Popularity?

If there’s anyone perfectly suited to conduct a pops concert, it’s Peter Nero. The Philadelphia Inquirer doesn’t call him “the perfect pop conductor” for nothing. Known for his populist musical taste, prodigious energy and clean, brisk piano attack, Nero conducts the UNLV Jazz Symphony Orchestra in a celebration of Gershwin melodies, including — what else? — “Someone to Watch Over Me” and excerpts from Porgy and Bess. (AK) 8p, $25-$75, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Concert Hall

Nov. 3

Hopefully, there are strings attached

Want to raise a few bucks for the strings program at CSN? Yeah, it gets kind of awkward for students, sawing away at cardboard “violins.” You can kick down some funds at the CSN Chamber Music Concert, which doubles as a fundraiser for the strings program, ensuring future students aren’t just playing air cello. (AK) 2p, $5-$8, Recital Hall Room 1430, CSN’s Cheyenne Campus

Nov. 11

You’ll never be so happy to be so sad

Fado is Portugal’s national export. It’s not a physical commodity, but if it were, it would likely take the form of bricks of stormy, histrionic sadness wrapped in tempestuous weeping. Fado is Portugal’s version of the blues — but it’s more accurately described as blues-coated blues with a little blues icing on top. Fado artist Mariza has developed her own modern interpretation to the timeless musical form, and in the process she’s become Portugal’s fado ambassador to the world, making people around the globe cry and punch the air with their tear-stained fists. Bring Kleenex. A pallet of it. (AK) 8p, $26-$125, Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

Nov. 17

America: the encore!

Geez, if this show were any more quintessentially American, it would come with free apple pie-flavored copies of the Declaration of Independence. The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra — known to us freedom-lovers as “America’s Orchestra” — will celebrate everything from Copland to Ellington to Queen. (Okay, so Queen wasn’t American. Nobody’s perfect!) (AK) 5p, $39-$149, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

Nov. 18

Old bluesman, meet young whippersnapper blues girl

Blues is like dirt: This gritty, ordinary stuff is the soil from which so much of American music has grown, from rock ’n’ roll to jazz to hip-hop. (Where the hell dubstep came from, we have no clue.)Two generations of blues talent share the stage at this special event: Grammy-winning singer/guitarist Keb Mo, and acclaimed vocalist Shemekia Copeland. Keb Mo is considered a living link to the Delta blues tradition that birthed generations of American music; Shemekia Copeland is known for her voice that’s both potent and poignant. (AK) 7:30p, $26-$99, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

Nov. 19

Classical guitar coming on like a comet

A talent such as 25-year-old Mak Grgic is cometary: It shows itself only once in a long while, and when it does, it’s something to behold. The Slovenian classical guitarist is not the type of wunderkind you might think — not hot-fingered, blazing, seemingly effortless or virtuosic. Rather, what’s remarkable about his youth is the age of his playing: the depth and sensitivity of his interpretations of classical works are hallmarks of a much older soul. (AK) $40, 8p, UNLV’s Doc Rando Recital Hall

Nov. 23

He is Michael Bublé, and he owns your soul

Okay, so the critics bat Michael Bublé around like a cat toy: He’s philandering-free Rat Pack, Sinatra-lite, a fast-food crooner with extra cheese. Let the critics snark and wail. Because eventually, even the most iron-hearted, scissor-clawed scribes succumb to the Canadian singer’s schtick — which is all the more powerful for being so un-schticky: An easygoing charm that says, hey, Michael Bublé’s just trying his pipes out on some classic songs and not at all taking this stuff too seriously so just relax and enjoy mmkay? Now let him hug you. (AK) 8p, $62.50-$118, MGM Grand Arena

Nov. 23

The sound of ’Murrica!

The Las Vegas Philharmonic marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — and honors Nevada service men and women — in “Love of Country,” a rousing concert of potent, muscular works, including Beethoven’s formidable Third Symphony, as well as works by American composers Leonard Bernstein, George Walker and Peter Lieberson. 7:30p, $25-$94, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

Through December

Sounds like an urban legend: Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins got together for an epic, one-night jam session in December 1956? Yeah, right. We bet Bigfoot was there, too, and a UFO filled with chupacabras. But it’s true: These four explosive talents gathered at Sun Records in Memphis on Dec. 4, 1956 for a night of fresh, freewheeling rock ’n’ roll. In its best moments, “Million Dollar Quartet” is more like a channeling than a mere re-enactment; the stagey moments and sometimes-corny life-lesson speeches give way (as they should) to renditions of “Great Balls of Fire,” “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Folsom Prison Blues” that have a looseness and reckless energy that turn a good stage show into a great concert. (AK) Mon and Thu, 5:30 and 8p; Tue, Wed, Fri and Sun, 7p, $60.50-$84.70, Harrah’s Showroom in Harrah’s Las Vegas

Dec. 7

When you’re done shopping for gift cards and gorging yourself on cocktail wieners at the office party, take some time to celebrate the holiday in the proper spirit: with a Santa’s sackful of holiday music in your face. This year’s “We Love the Holidays!” concert by the Las Vegas Philharmonic features samplings from holiday classics such as Humperdinck’s “Hansel & Gretel” and the musical score of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” And be sure to stick around for the rousing audience sing-along, a tradition right up there with the awkward thank-you to mom for that purple checkered sweater. (AK) 2p and 7:30p, $25-$94, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center

Dec. 11

Only thing missing: the 7-Up guy

Ah, the unmistakable sound of a steel drum band: palm trees dripping day-glo tropical ice cream and toucans in festive straw hats sipping umbrella drinks. Get a taste of summer delight in the midst of our hard, bitter “winter” with CSN’s Calypso Coyote Steel Drum Band and the Wednesday Night Jazz Band, as they break out contemporary and classic tunes. (AK) 7:30p, $5-$8, Nicholas J. Horn Theatre at CSN Cheyenne Campus

Dec. 30

Please don’t bring up Tusk

Fleetwood Mac isn’t a band; it must be a collective musical compulsion. What else would hold a band together through drug drama, financial turmoil, hook-ups, affairs, break-ups, wild success, commercial failure and countless rock ’n’ roll capers to be one of our enduring, steadfast rhinos of rock? Best of all, this tour’s lineup includes the Rumours-era lineup that created that drama machine — and such timeless music, too: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. (AK) 8p, $99.50-$224.50, MGM Grand Garden Arena


Art & exhibits

Through Sept. 20

Not so loony ’toons

More than one artist references comic style or iconography in his or her work. Here’s why Las Vegan Michael Ogilvie does it — or, rather, not why he does: “I do not make it for catharsis,” he says, “but rather to explore the very nature of that innocence,” that is, the innocence we associate with reading comics as children.

Back when we read them for the sheer joy of it, before they accrued pop-cultural associations, fanboy cred and economic significance. The work he showcases in his solo show The End of the Rainbow — which

he calls “viciously cute visual poetry for the connoisseur of fanatical conjecture” — probes the links between memory and pleasure, the better to understand how one influences the other. (SD) Free, CSN Artspace Gallery


The man comes (back) around

Whether you’re a Vegas old-timer wondering, What’s Anthony Bondi been up to lately?, or a newcomer wondering, Who?, your question will be answered by a pair of exhibits this fall. What the venerable but rarely exhibited artist has been doing will be made clear Sept. 5-28, when RTZ Gallery shows his recent digital photos (paired with shots by Ginger Bruner in a show titled Suspicious Evidence). “This is the first time I have shown this work,” says Bondi, who’s lately spent much of his energy making interactive pieces for Burning Man. That’ll be followed in November with Neon Metropolis, a Sin City Gallery display (Oct. 31-Dec. 23) of the ’90s-era collages with which he cemented his rep as a Founding Father of local art. The first show proves he didn’t stop creating art a decade ago; the second, that he didn’t just start, either. (SD) Free, RTZ Gallery, Sin City Gallery

Through Sept. 27

Once upon a time in the West

What does “rural” mean now? An idealized Western landscape undulating around … a server farm? Cattle lowing within a cowpie’s throw of tract houses? A quaint ranching town with a big-box store and the second homes of wealthy out-of-staters? Into this rapidly complexifying place comes a loose group of artists examining rural life in the new West: the tension between the modern region and the mythic one; the conflicted relationships between rural, suburban and urban; the overlay of new economies on a place once devoted mostly to ranches and mines. Post Rural examines a timely topic no matter how far you live from the nearest cow. (SD) Reception 6p Sept. 27, free, CSN Fine Arts Gallery


Freaky First Fridays

The blatantly unthemed milling-about that so many of us remember from First Fridays past appears to be giving way, at least some months, to a more theme-driven milling-about. August’s event, you’ll recall — either because you were there or because your social media blew up with it — adopted a whimsical “winter wonderland” motif, complete with a tromp l’oeil ice-scape painted on the street and real penguins. First Friday mullahs are rather tight-lipped about upcoming themes, not wanting to commit too early. But we’ve heard tell of a “tribal fusion” thing for September — perhaps something about celebrating your roots? And there’s a good chance that October’s FF will be devoted to books, a fine lead-in to the Vegas Valley Book Festival a month later. Kept creative — a “companions in the desert” concept sounds great to us! — these themes just might give First Friday the renewed community momentum its organizers are seeking. (SD) Free, Arts District,

Through Oct. 4

Eyes in the skies

It’s a distinctly 21st century question: How does the world look through the eye of a drone? More precisely, what are the moral, political, spiritual and emotional consequences of making life-and-death decisions from such a lofty, distant viewpoint? (For one thing, we know some of the pilots, stationed at nearby Creech Air Force Base, have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.) And is there a way of making art that grapples with this new way of seeing? Such were the questions cycling though Christopher Tsouras’ imagination as the College of Southern Nevada art professor photographed the local landscapes that became the stripped-down images of technological modernity in Drone Series. (SD) Free, Winchester Cultural Center

Sept. 5-28

Paper, cut

Nothing we say about Tennessee artist Charles Clary’s work can quite match his own description of what they are (“strange landmasses”) and what they do: They “contaminate and infect the surfaces they inhabit, transforming the space into something suitable for their gestation.” And, as is so often true of the viral forms they evoke, Clary’s works, seen up close, are quite beautiful. Gently and meticulously carved from layers of colored paper, they are both almost familiar and not-quite otherworldly, gorgeously ambiguous. (SD) Free, Brett Wesley Gallery

Sept. 5-28

Be your own pom-pom

A young man in a sweater festooned with purple streamers walks to the sideline of an empty stadium. He begins plucking the plastic fronds until his sweater has been denuded; this takes a while. He then arranges them into two piles, manages to grip one pile in each hand — they are now pom-poms — and, after facing the absent crowd, he leaves. That’s the action in “I Am My Own Cheerleader,” a video by artist J. Casey Doyle that gives his witty exhibit — which is about gender roles, sexuality and transformation — its title. (SD) Reception 6p, Sept. 13, Contemporary Arts Center

Sept. 5-28

Living in their material world

Artist JW Caldwell has brought together five Las Vegas artists who push the materiality of their work well beyond traditional limits. Chris Bauder forms paint into objects. Justin Favela creates pieces from cardboard, among the least permanent materials imaginable. Brent Sommerhauser’s sculptures defy easy description in summaries like this. Together, the works in Indelicate demand that we be open to new ideas about what art is — and what it isn’t. (SD) Free, Reception 6p, Sept. 5, Contemporary Arts Center

Sept. 12-Nov. 7

They were into death before zombies were cool

If Hispanic culture seems to be having a moment — after Hispanic voters seriously moved the needle in last year’s election; with progress seemingly possible on immigration — here’s a show to remind us that there’s more to this culture than its recent political dimension. The Hispanic-American Heritage Exhibit will present some artists you may recognize (Justin Favela, Alexander Huerta) along with talents you’ll now remember, all exploring the iconography of the annual Day of the Dead. Other artists include Theresa Lucero, Sophia McMahan, Javier Sanchez and Sandra Ward. (SD) Reception 3-5p, Sept. 12, free, City Hall Chamber Gallery

Sept. 18-Nov. 30

Kids’ stuff isn’t just kids’ stuff

There’s more to illustrating books for children than creating cute, anthropomorphic animals that know how to count. (Although that’s a good start.) Along with the obvious task of educating young readers, these images bear a quieter, long-term burden: They are the beginning of a child’s visual education. So it’s a good thing for our future aesthetics when this vital work is created by quality artists, such as those featured in Imaginings Through Illustrations: Work by Children’s Book Illustrators. We’re talking about Jorge Betancourt-Polanco, Elisha Cooper, Adam Gustavson, Bethanie Murguia, Kip Noschese and Joseph Watson. (SD) Free, Historic Fifth Street School

Oct. 3-26

Face the face

Portraits have been squared within traditional frames since before Mona Lisa forced a smile — so long, in fact, it might seem there’s no other way to depict human features. But painter Kevin Chupik’s new work in “head • space” pushes decisively against this rectangular oppressiveness. By painting portraits on curved, bowed, oddly shaped panels, he reinvigorates the picture plane, pushing it out of its historical flatness and into a new sense of dimension. The image is suddenly more than just a plain old face. “Each composition then exists as a shape within other shapes,” he says. “Each portrait is imbued with a dynamic presence.” (SD) Free, Brett Wesley Gallery

Oct. 3-25

Our trash, ourselves

We are a messy people, we Americans, and plenty of artists have turned our trash against us, often in found-art critiques of our wasteful consumerism. Considerably fewer of them have taken the path that Kentucky artist Tom Pfannerstill has in his From the Street series (a sequel to his 2010 show in the same gallery). He’s carved and painted wooden replicas of tossed-away detritus he’s found on the streets, tromp l’oeil depictions that serve simultaneously as art, sociology and an anthropology of our junk. Seductive as art, quietly shaming as reminders of our wasteful ways. (SD) Free, Trifecta Gallery

Oct. 3-Dec. 28

Linda Alterwitz is a Las Vegas art photographer who often composites medical images with other styles of photography to explore realities that are hidden from plain sight. Ruth Thomas is a British printmaker who works bits of nature — grasses, worm casings — into her prints, to explore realities that are hidden from plain sight. The two exhibited together decades ago, as students, and now, as established artists, they’re together again in From Vegas to Wales. Alterwitz’s work in particular can be a visually haunting excursion into the overlap between art and science. That’s as good a reason as any to rediscover this often-overlooked gallery. (SD) Reception 6-8p, Oct. 24, free, Charleston Heights Arts Center

Oct. 4-Nov. 30

Also home to the Swamp Thing

If you haven’t been out there, you may think of the Las Vegas Wash — if you think of it at all — as a trickle of runoff water and treated effluent burbling toward Lake Mead. So consider “Sunset, Telephone Line Road,” a photograph from Fred Sigman’s series Bottomlands: Photographs of the Las Vegas Wash. Across the bottom is a wide flow of water that looks almost alien in the desert we know. Across the middle: a band of green lushness straight out of a Southern landscape. Only the desert sky looks familiar. In other words, there’s a whole different world hidden in our own backyard, one that Sigman has been shooting for four decades. (SD) Free, Nevada Humanities Program Gallery in Art Square

Oct. 25-Nov. 25

I dunno, this looks kinda sketchy

Finished art is great, but unfinished art has its moments, too. Sketches, notes, early revisions — the backstage stuff you don’t often get to see can shed revealing light on the creative process. That’s what promises to be compelling about From Alamogordo to Las Vegas: Behind the Scenes of Tales From Last Vegas. Through concept designs and script pages, the homegrown creators of Tales From Last Vegas, an adventure comic commemorating the sixth annual Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, show how the project came together. (SD) Free, Alternate Reality Comics, 4111 S. Maryland Parkway,

Nov. 1-28

Verse-case scenario

With the exhibit Poetry in Clay, artists Thomas Bumblauskas, John Gregg, Peter Jakubowski and Marc Rosenthal have set themselves a challenging and ambitious goal: render in ceramics the inspirations of their favorite poets. Think about that for a minute. Not only must they extract some definable meaning from works by such writers as Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll, and John Keats — and keep in mind that poetry, by its nature, resists easy meanings — they also must render it visually. But not just visually; in three dimensions. No getting away with a surreal doodle on a sheet of paper. This promises to be an interesting cross-genre experiment. (SD) Free, Clay Arts Vegas, 1511 S. Main St.,

Nov. 1-29

Wait for it …

Philip Denker is an artist of patience. Perhaps he’s plugging tens of thousands of pipe-cleaners into tiny holes to create a spazzy replica of casino carpeting, as he did for a memorable show last year; perhaps he’s making drawings of an OCD-like density; or, as in the eight large pieces in this new show, Over and Under, perhaps Denker’s repeatedly stacking and slicing plastic sheets until he’s arrived at one of his dizzying patterns. Always, the effort required and tedium endured is part of the work and its meaning. Thankfully, they’re much easier to look at. (SD) Free, Trifecta Gallery

Dec. 7-Jan. 25

Vegas Valley of the Dolls

Don’t let a sold-out Bruno Mars concert fool you. While every big-time show by a minority performer on the Strip moves Vegas another centimeter away from its segregated “Mississippi of the West” era, it also tempts us to forget that grim reality. A fine and necessary reminder arrives this fall in Reflections of the Ebony Guys, Dolls & Techs, a batch of historical photos that show us some of the minority dancers and behind-the-scenes technicians who worked on the Strip when it was, sadly, much more black and white. (SD) Reception 2p, Jan. 25, free, West Las Vegas Arts Center


Venue index

Art Square
1025 S. 1st St.,  483-8844,

Brett Wesley Gallery
1112 S. Casino Center Blvd., 433-4433,

Charleston Heights
Arts Center, 800 Brush St., 229-6383,

City Hall
Chamber Gallery, 2nd floor of City Hall, 495 S. Main St.

Clark County Amphitheater
500 S. Grand Central Parkway, 455-8200

Clark County Library
1401 E. Flamingo Road, 507-3400,

Cockroach Theatre (at Art Square)
1025 S. 1st St.,

Contemporary Arts Center (in the Arts Factory)
107 E. Charleston Blvd. #120, 382-3886,

CSN Cheyenne Campus (Artspace Gallery, Fine Arts Gallery, BackStage Theatre, Nicholas J. Horn Theatre)
3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas, 651-4000

Fifth Street School
401 S. Fourth St., 229-6469

The Palms
4321 W. Flamingo Road, 942-7777

RTZvegas (at Art Square)
1017 S. First St. #195, 592-2164,

Sin City Gallery (in the Arts Factory)
107 E. Charleston Blvd. #100, 608-2461,

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
361 Symphony Park Ave., 749-2012,

Springs Preserve
333 S. Valley View Blvd., 822-7700,

Summerlin Centre Community Park
800 S. Town Center Drive

Sunset Park
2601 E. Sunset Road

Tivoli Village
440 S. Rampart Blvd. 570-7400

Trifecta Gallery (in the Arts Factory)
107 E. Charleston Blvd., 366-7001,

UNLV (Artemus Ham Hall, Barrick Museum Auditorium, Black Box Theatre, Doc Rando Recital Hall, Greenspun Hall Auditorium, Student Union ballroom)
4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 895-3011

West Las Vegas Arts Center
947 W. Lake Mead Blvd. 229-4800

Winchester Cultural Center
3130 McLeod Drive, 455-7340

Scott Dickensheets is a Las Vegas writer and editor whose trenchant observations about local culture have graced the pages of publications nationwide.
As a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada, native Las Vegan Andrew Kiraly has served as a reporter covering topics as diverse as health, sports, politics, the gaming industry and conservation. He joined Desert Companion in 2010, where he has helped steward the magazine to become a vibrant monthly publication that has won numerous honors for its journalism, photography and design, including several Maggie Awards.