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Gallery at UNLV to honor late artist, writer and Las Vegas champion: Dave Hickey

Kristen DeSilva/KNPR

Sush Machida at KNPR on Aug. 26, 2022.

It’s rare that one links intellectual giants with Las Vegas. But Dave Hickey easily fit that bill.  

The renowned art critic and writer taught for years at UNLV, and was an unabashed champion of Las Vegas.  

Last November, Hickey died of heart disease in New Mexico.  

Some nine months later, the local art scene will pay tribute to him with an exhibit at UNLV’s Donna Beam Gallery, called DIFY Diaspora: In Memory of Dave Hickey.  

It will feature the work of 27 artists, most of whom graduated from UNLV and have a personal connection to Hickey.  

One of those artists is Sush Machida, who Hickey lured to Las Vegas. He is also the curator of DIFY Diaspora, and a former artist in residence for Nevada Public Radio.

He recently spoke with KNPR producer Mike Prevatt about the exhibit.

Machida has wanted to put this together for a while. DIFY even means “do it [expletive] yourself” because he organized it himself after a long time of everyone talking about it. 

“He gave me a lot of experience. He introduced me to the art world. He showed me a lot of stuff. Now I feel like I have to give it back to him. So I wanted to do something for him,” he said. 

Machida described Hickey as his coach.

He’s been described by others as brutally honest, generous, unpretentious, brash, witty, talented, among others. He was a storied critic, having bounced around the Andy Warhol scene in 1960s New York. 

The exhibit honoring his life opens on Aug. 29 and remains up until Oct. 7. It will include a guest lecturer and an artists' reception in mid-September.

Machida said attendees can expect a wide variety of art, including an installation from Jeffrey Valance, and art from Tim Bavington, David Ryan, Shawn Hummel and Sean Slattery, who all live in Las Vegas.

But what would Hickey think about it? 

“He would laugh at it, I think. He's smiling, you know, ‘Sush, again? You know, you're kind of funny.’ But yeah, sense of humor is really important in art, I think. So that's what he would say to me. He would just laugh, he wouldn't say anything to me.”

Once the exhibit closes, Machida, who has lived in Las Vegas for 23 years, will be going back to Tokyo to open a gallery.

Sush Machida, artist, curator, DIFY Diaspora: In Memory of Dave Hickey

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Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates and creates content for, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.