The City of Las Vegas Arts Commission is considering relocating at least one of the pieces in its iconic—and controversial—45-foot-tall “Paintbrush Gateway,” the two giant, glowing “brushes” designed by the late Dennis Oppenheim to be the heralds of the 18b Arts District.
Originally conceived as a set of four (until the city’s coffers ran dry), the twin steel structures that illuminate at night in waves of changing colors were installed on opposite sides of Charleston Boulevard in 2010, one on the southwest corner of Casino Center Boulevard, the other at the northeast corner of Fourth Street—two blocks apart, defeating the $700,000 public art project’s goal of creating a “gateway” to the Arts District.
Now, at the urging of Commissioner Brian “Paco” Alvarez, the city is investigating the logistics and cost of moving the Fourth Street paintbrush to the northwest corner of Casino Center (in front of Bar+Bistro at the Arts Factory), an operation that is estimated to cost $120,000.
“If there was a way to bring the two together, maybe across the street from each other, it would create the gateway they were meant to be,” Alvarez said during a discussion on the matter at Thursday’s meeting. “Sadly, the one on Fourth is just lost.”
Another proposal raised by Alvarez and echoed at the meeting by local arts supporter Melissa Petersen is to move both pieces of public art to an entirely different location: on opposite sides of Main Street, which will soon be experiencing its own upheaval, spending the next two years being reconfigured as a one-way road northbound along with its neighbor, the future southbound-flowing Commerce Street.
Commissioner Stephen Grogan suggested further analysis needs to be completed before any decision regarding the relocation of the paintbrushes is made. “Let’s continue the investigation,” he said.
PHOTO BY GEOFF CARTER