|“Rise and Sign,” mixed media on panel, 12” x 12”|
Last year I did an art show in Las Vegas and stayed, not where everyone goes, near the Strip, but way out, in a real smoky dive with velvet curtains and yellowed mirrors on the ceilings, the sort of place, actually, I enjoy.
I only stayed a few nights. But both times I pulled in at dusk, nodded at a guy on a slot machine (who I swore was Dolemite, only in track pants), wound through the labyrinth of shrieking flashing gizmos to my room, and proceeded to eat a sandwich on a plastic stool overlooking a flickering, rusting sign, depicted in today's painting. Underneath, out of the frame, were a bunch of staff drinking Modelo and smoking.
In the morning, I repeated, though in reverse. I cracked open the curtains, stared at the sign, stared at the staff below who were still drinking Modelo and smoking, and headed back out, passing the same Dolemite dude at the same slot machine, nodding at him.
In the parking lot, on the periphery of it, many people of every age, gender, and ethnicity pushed about shopping carts and baby strollers overflowing with recyclables. There were singles, couples, and even families with kids.
My partner hates Vegas. Says it's all simulacra and fake. But what isn't, from housing developments that nod to nature to every square inch of irrigated land in California?
In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman talks about how Vegas is a metaphor for the American character. He refers to the way politics, culture, religion, news, education, and commerce have become entirely devoted to the principle of entertainment. Yup.
Though I would add that, now that the mystique around Vegas has shriveled, the same comparison applies to the sociology on the ground.
I do my best to use environmentally responsible pigments, varnishes, and other materials, all while upholding the strictest archival conventions and not losing anything in the way of colour or vibrancy.
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Check out my website, www.ivanostocco.com, to see more of my work. I'm also on Instagram @ivano_stocco.