Exploring Medusa’s Lair in the Arts District

Medusa’s Antiques and Collectibles in the Arts District is a wonderland of strange artifacts, furniture, art and repurposed rarities. Owner Dave Fontani, a former high-rise window cleaner for Strip resorts, started the business four years ago after selling a seven-string Ibanez guitar on eBay and doubling his profit. “I love buying shit. I wish I would have done that instead of sitting on a bar stool for 20 years,” he says. Fontani’s purchasing strategy is simple: He buys what he finds uncommon or interesting.

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

When you walk inside Medusa’s, you feel as though you’ve entered the storage room of a museum. Your eyes jump from a large piano transformed into a table to stunning stained glass panels from an old church to a massive brass ship’s horn from the USS Inchon. There is furniture, too, such as a 1930s Paul T. Frankl orange art deco chair or a 1950s mosaic table in the shape of an artist’s palette. Need a wall hanging? How about 3-foot walrus tusks or Sammy Davis Jr.’s T-shirt?

Hayley Hunter, a Las Vegas design stylist and furniture designer whose portfolio includes Lavo Casino Club, Park on Fremont, El Cortez and Commonwealth, is a regular at Medusa’s because she is always on the hunt for unusual conversation pieces. “Antiques provide an element of depth and culture that are not offered when buying something from a franchise store,” Hunter says. “However, it’s good to be cautious on the amount of antiques being used for the space. Knowing how and when to incorporate the old into the new is key.”

Fontani’s home is also filled with strange items, such as Wayne Newton’s jumpsuit that he bought from an old groupie and a 1967 photo of Jerry Garcia without facial hair. He suggests buyers do their research, and he encourages purchasing antiques rather than modern pieces. “I tell people when they walk in and really like something that they are never going to find this again,” he says. “This is one-of-a-kind.”

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