With due respect to the now-deceased painter who formerly held the title, Jerry Misko is a painter of light. Neon light, to be precise. The downtown-based artist creates works inspired by Vegas’ neon signs, works that pulse and shimmer wholly on their own. You’ve seen his work at the Cosmopolitan (inside Neapolitan), on the front of Emergency Arts, and probably in the homes of every other local you know. (I have two Miskos on my wall, and three more in storage.) If you’ve ever been to the Beat or to Lady Sylvia you’ve likely met Misko a half-dozen times already, but just in case you’ve missed each other, please meet one of Vegas’ most celebrated artists.
HI! MY NAME IS: Jerry Misko
BUT MY FRIENDS CALL ME: F’n Misko, Bubba or “that guy who owes me a painting.”
WHAT DO YOU DO? I’m an artist. More specifically, I make paintings using the lights, neon and architecture of Vegas signage/frontage as my inspiration. I also create large-scale murals.
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS SAY ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? My friends love what I do and have been supportive of my artistic endeavor from the get-go. I do get a lot of “When are you going to finish my painting?” though.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS? I was born at Sunrise Hospital and went to high school at Bishop Gorman, way back when it was still adjacent to downtown. I’ve lived all over the Valley but I currently reside at The Ogden. I’ve had a studio and/or gallery downtown since 1998.
WHY LIVE DOWNTOWN? ISN’T IT AN UNTAMED WASTELAND? You can actually tell one street from another — unlike in the stucco hive that is the ’burbs. And downtown is full of history and those beautiful neon signs I love so much.
WHAT’S THE BEST DAMN THING ABOUT DOWNTOWN? There’s a sense of community and neighborhood that is tough to find in Las Vegas, almost a frontier vibe that connects all the people living, working and developing a better downtown. I love the people. The view from my condo is a real close second.
DOWNTOWN NEEDS ______ MORE THAN ANYTHING. A great grocery store. Big box or mom ’n’ pop, we just need a place to shop. See what I did there, with a little rhyming action?
FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE: FRIEND OR FOE? Little bit of both, but it is here to stay and the best needs to be made of it.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN DOWNTOWN VEGAS TO EAT? Le Thai, because it’s awesome and Dan Couglin is the man. The Beat, because it’s The Beat. The brisket sandwich is amazing — and also, there’s a giant Misko mural on the building. The Flame, because they have tasty steaks, stone crab on weekends and three Miskos on their walls. Kabob Korner, because the Super Gyro actually is super.And Pop Up Pizza because, well, because it’s pizza. And fuckin’ delicious.
TO DRINK? So many great places to grab a drink, but my favorites are Downtown Cocktail Room and Artifice. Great vibes, great staff, and owners that truly give a damn about downtown. I also drink at Vanguard and the El Cortez more than is probably good for me.
TO BE ENTERTAINED? Insert Coin(s) does an amazing job of entertaining. Just walking in the door is visually stimulating. Mix in the games and the stellar DJ/music program and it’s hard to go wrong.
TO WATCH DRUNKS IN ACTION? From my balcony. I can see all of East Fremont and not get puked on.
AND TO SIMPLY RELAX? I love to chill up on the rooftop pool of The Ogden. A pool and hot tub 25 stories above the neon, this is heaven.
IF YOU WERE ANOINTED SUPREME RULER OF DOWNTOWN FOR ONE DAY, WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE? Being supreme ruler would obviously corrupt me. All my subjects would be required by mandate to purchase my art and display it proudly in their abodes.
PHOTO BY ANDREW JAMES
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