Artist Allison Wiese Explores Downtown Through the Neon Museum

“Sisters: Barbara,” a 5.5-foot high by 20-foot wide plywood and paint installation, dropped off at a Southern California beach for a day in 2015.

Allison Wiese has just started to explore Las Vegas.

Selected as the recipient of the 2017 National Artist Residency for the Neon Museum, the 47-year-old artist will live and work in Downtown Las Vegas through June 30. During her residency, she will engage with the community, share her expertise and interpret the Neon Museum collection within a wider context.

As an interdisciplinary artist and poet, Wiese creates sculptures, installations, sound works, performances and architectural interventions.

“Some of the things that attracted me to the museum was the accretion of time and space and the way signs and other things are piled up on each other so beautifully,” Wiese told “This museum really speaks to me as a sculptor.”

Allison Wiese at her new workspace in the Neon Museum’s Ne10 Building. Photo by Eamon Workman.

She is working on setting up a tour of YESCO, which created the first neon sign in Las Vegas in 1945. Wiese plans on driving around the city to view all signage, from large resorts to small businesses. In the past, she has worked with materials such as highway signage, flags and commercial awnings.

Based at Gold Spike, Wiese is living what she calls, “the Vegas experience.” “This is so interesting for me,” she says. According to Wiese, the history of any city is always present, including the myths, fantasies and urban legends. She sees the mythologies of Las Vegas are very close to the surface and this is an interest of hers to extend to her body of work. Wiese also believes that Las Vegas is visually and behaviorally hyperbolic.

“People come here with certain very powerful ideas of what they want. I think this will be a great opportunity to learn about human fantasies about ourselves, our history and who we are, which is what I am interested in discovering,” she says.

“Untitled 1″—a fiberglass signage panel transformed into a landscape.

Based in San Diego, Wiese made it a point to visit Las Vegas two years ago to view the collection of the Neon Museum. “I had driven through before but this was my first time to stop,” she explains. “My work often uses common materials to make sculptural work. I repurpose and reposition that existing material.”

Wiese’s work has been exhibited throughout the U.S., including the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego and Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. Wiese is also a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, an alumna of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and was a Core Fellow of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Wiese currently teaches at the University of San Diego.

A pick-up line addressed to the Great Plains from Sheridan, WY’s closed-for-the winter drive-in theater.

She will deliver an artist’s talk on June 15, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and a studio open house on June 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. Both events are free to the public and will take place at the Neon Museum’s Ne10 Building located at 300 N. Las Vegas Blvd. The residency was made possible through grants from the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

For more information, call (702) 387-6366 or visit

Vegas Seven