Michelle Scott has been a Las Vegas resident for 16 years. Yet the art curator has never felt connected to the local arts scene. The main reason? The lack of cultural diversity.
“It’s not here. I’m from Chicago where culture exists in everything all the time,” says Scott, a Windy City native who also lived in the Bay Area and Los Angeles before moving here. “The galleries here aren’t minority-based.”
Scott aims to change that.
A pharmacy manager by day, Scott has held several private exhibits throughout Las Vegas over the years, showcasing minority artists to collectors. This Saturday, Scott goes public with her U+U Gallery (pronounced “you and you”) concept show, Art Mod, at Institution 18b with a group exhibit, appetizers and music. The exhibit will feature the works of Beverly Hills-based Emmy Lu, Detroit artist Gigi Boldon and Oakland’s Timothy Bluitt. All three artists’ works reflect the lives, cultures and histories of African-Americans.
Lu’s oil and acrylic creations, some of which have made their way into the private collections of black actors and athletes, are vibrant and abstract portraits, jazz pieces and paintings that touch on social issues. “His art means something,” Scott says.
Boldon tackles similar subjects, but prefers collages and mixed media on paper, wood and canvas. She also touches on playful and contemporary topics. “Selfie THOTs” shows two women making duckfaces into an iPhone while “Dominatrix” looks like an abstract Craigslist ad.
Bluitt is the youngest of the trio but finds inspiration from his ancestors, often depicting African warriors and women in his work.
None of the artists featured in Saturday’s show are known here, but that’s the point—to highlight culturally significant art and artists that Las Vegas has never seen before.
“It’s a great time to do something different, especially in Downtown,” says Scott, who lives in the neighborhood.
Saturday’s show will also serve as a formal introduction to Scott’s U+U Gallery, which she plans to open in the Arts District. In the works for more than a year, she’s currently eyeing different locations in the neighborhood but hopes to be up and running in January. Her ideal location will also function as a lounge and community hangout, she says.
While many galleries have opened and closed in DTLV, Scott is undeterred from her passion.
“Nothing comes quick,” Scott says. “If you love something, it will come.”
Nov. 5, 5 p.m., Institution 18b, 918 S. Main St.