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The Smith Center is a hub of culture in Las Vegas, hosting a myriad of shows and events across the year
Credit: Odonata90

Edgy contemporary paintings of human figures intertwined. Animated art cells and metal works depicting Elvis. Three-dimensional clay sculptures and oversized yarn towers. Priceless classics by Warhol and Monet.

These are just a few of the hundreds of pieces of art displayed in dozens of art studios and galleries that dot Las Vegas.

The city may be known for high rollers, but it isn’t always at the top of people’s mind for high-brow culture. It should be. Las Vegas is home to world-class art, be it painting, sculpture, photography or performance.

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First Friday is a monthly art and culture event held in Downtown Las Vegas
Credit: Frankie Tease Magazine

Downtown Las Vegas’ Arts District includes an eclectic mix of galleries. Known as “18b,” for its original 18 blocks, the district has grown significantly in recent years and has emerged as the hub of the city’s culture scene. It’s also where, on the first Friday of each month, an arts and cultural festival is held – aptly named First Friday. This lively event draws up to 20,000 visitors and encourages people to browse, buy, eat, drink and mingle. Artists display their works, while musicians play to the crowds and visual artists perform.

Credit: 18b Arts District, City of Las Vegas
A wide array of art is on display in the 18b district
Credit: 18b Arts District, City of Las Vegas

It’s an all round fantastic time and myy family and I try to go every month. My children are amazed by all the sights, sounds and smells, while my husband and I enjoy picking up goodies made by local artisans. We have found art for our home, stone jewellery, handcrafted leather wallets and funky magnets here on our various visits.

On the Strip, numerous resorts include fine art galleries that display some of the greatest classics ever created. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is among the best. Through 10 January, a special display of 43 Picasso paintings, linocuts and lithographs from the 1930s to the 1970s is on show. The exhibition, titled Picasso: Creatures and Creativity, showcases the artist’s extraordinary ability to capture the human form using lines, movement and colour. It’s also an opportunity to see portraits made over a 40-year period. Admission costs $19, and the gallery is open from 10am to 8pm.

If you’re on a budget, no worries. Take a stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard where you can see world-class art at nearly every turn – for free.

City Center is home to Las Vegas’ first permanent art collection in a public space, and the world’s largest corporate art collection. There are massive installations, paintings and sculptures practically everywhere you look – in lobbies, corridors and outdoor spaces. From the vibrant (a gravity-defying blossom fashioned from multi-coloured aluminum rowboats) to the ornate (a cascading waterfall wall of granite and stone) to the intimate (a 10-foot sculpture of a baby wrapped in its mother’s embrace), the works, worth $40 million, are strategically placed to reveal different experiences that unfold around every corner.

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Las Vegas Boulevard is brimming with culture and art attractions
Credit: Andres Nieto Porras

“This venture marks the only corporate collection ever to join such a multitude of media, styles and artists and make it accessible in such a highly visible and public manner,” said Michele Quinn, curatorial advisor for City Center’s Fine Art Collection. “Delivering this calibre of artwork demonstrates our desire to create a cultural centrepiece for Las Vegas.”

The Armillary Sphere at the Venetian Resort and Hotel is a splendid example of Renaissance engineering and art amidst slot machines and nightclubs. It also sits under an ornate frescoed ceiling.

Musical performances also come in abundance here. Las Vegas has a delightful philharmonic symphony orchestra, and its actually the only professional ensemble in Southern Nevada.

Founded in 1998, the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra includes 76 core musicians who perform more than 20 concerts each season. The organisation’s signature Masterworks and Pops Series showcases local talent alongside internationally renowned guest soloists and conductors. Global superstars Sarah Brightman, Placido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli have all performed with the orchestra.

And there is arguably no finer place than the Smith Center for the Performing Arts to see plays, musicals, concerts, dance and theatre.

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God Lives in Glass will bring together the city’s best performers
Credit: Smith Center for the Performing Arts

This November, many of Las Vegas’ finest entertainers will join together for a performance of the family musical theatre concert God lives in Glass, showcasing pop, gospel, classical, blues, reggae and R&B numbers. Cast members from hit Vegas shows including The Jersey Boys, Million Dollar Quartet, Rock of Ages, O, Menopause: the Musical, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and Showstoppers will accompany a 60-voice choir and a 14-member dance ensemble.

“This concert is all about fun, inspirational and uplifting music being served up by some of Vegas’ finest musical and theatrical talents,” composer Keith Thompson said.

Tickets start at $19 and are on sale on the venue’s website.

The theatre is breathtaking, designed with a mid-century modern flare. I have seen numerous productions there and can attest there is no bad seat in the house. I recommend arriving early to explore a bit.

Other upcoming shows include The Book of Mormon, Ragtime, Beethoven and Brahms, and A Balanchine Celebration: From Tchaikovsky to Rodgers & Hart to Gershwin.

 

Book one of our hotels in Las Vegas and take in the city’s culture offering on your next trip.

 

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