Tag Archives: art

Economy-Busting $40,000 Motel Rooms in Las Vegas

A library with dark, wood-paneled walls and a bookcase filled with leather-bound books sits adjacent to a regal living room at Caesars Palace’s Octavius Tower. You’d almost forget you were in Las Vegas if not for the tanning pool patrons outside the window. 

The antique-looking books in the library are seldom used, but they add to the villa’s residential illusion. So does the formal dining room that seats 12 and the media room with movie theater-style seating. 

The centerpiece of each villa is the patio overlooking the pool area. The villas opened last fall, but the new Garden of the Gods pool just began to welcome summer visitors. 

The three massive villas are the newest suites at Caesars Palace. With nearly 10,000 square feet of space, they’re some of the most opulent and largest suites on the Las Vegas Strip. The villas are on the second floor of Caesars’ unfinished Octavius Tower and are part of the resort’s long line of over-the-top suites.

 From the private elevator to the 24-hour butler service, everything about the Octavius villas feels exclusive, including the price tag. The cost for a night is $40,000. The price isn’t recession-friendly, but their patrons aren’t exactly struggling in today’s economy. 

The Octavius villas feel more like miniature mansions than hotel suites. Caesars spent about $15 million on each villa – a total of $45 million – to accomplish that goal. The villas are a collection of eclectic furnishings and faux artifacts, giving the feel of a collector’s well-kept home. 

Wilson & Associates designed each suite with an individual identity — an opulent Grecian palace, an Old World Spanish home and a Parisian luxury apartment.

The design firm is responsible for other suites at Caesars, as well as the fantasy suites at the Palms and the rooms and lobby at The Venetian. 

At 9,930 square feet, the Greek-style villa, which Caesars Palace dubs “Constantine,” is the largest of the three. The four-bedroom villa is far from subtle, but it’s subtly Greek with its fake marble columns and terracotta painted vases. 

After stepping off the private elevator into the marble foyer of the Greek villa, guests will find a formal sitting room, a grand Steinway piano and working fireplace. On the other side of the hall are rooms with a pool table, a restaurant-sized bar and a theater. 

Down a long hallway there are four bedrooms, each the size of a large hotel room, with walk-in closets and their own bathrooms. With custom marble and mosaics, no two bathrooms in the three villas have the same stonework. 

Inside the Greek villa, the master suite’s bathroom is almost as large as the bedroom itself. The bathroom is covered in green and beige marble and features his and her toilets, sinks and vanities. It also has a steam shower, towel-warming racks and flat-screen TVs, among other amenities. A marble-topped tub with gold-plated fixtures is the centerpiece of the lavish master bath. 

As trivial as they seem, the toilets are often the talk of the suites.  They’re controlled by remotes, function as bidets, have heated seats and the lid opens as guests approach. There’s never a reason to touch the toilet seat. 

The villas are filled with quirks galore: mirrors that turn into TVs, pianos that play themselves and chairs that massage to the beat of an iPod’s song. A networked system allows the butler to control every device in the villa. 

Though the three villas have different design schemes, they have similar amenities. The French villa is light and airy. The Spanish villa is designed with distressed wood throughout the main rooms. 

Off each living room is the patio that overlooks the pools. Each patio includes a fire pit, dining table and a private Jacuzzi. 

The view of Flamingo Road is less impressive. Those views are reserved for penthouses and other suites higher than the pool level. The resort’s two 10,000-square-foot penthouses in the Forum Tower are still the largest suites at the resort. Caesars Palace now has 11 villas, 11 penthouses and about 200 suites.

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Star Trek Memorabilia for Sale in Las Vegas Auction April 10

Fans of “Star Trek,” in its numerous incarnations, who also truly loved “Star Trek: The Experience” at the Las Vegas Hilton,” will surely feel they’ve died and been beamed up this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Popworx, the auction house that specializes in sales of television and movie assets, is holding the Star Trek auction at their warehouse (66 Spectrum Boulevard in Las Vegas) including various props and settings from the former Las Vegas resort hotel attraction. It was built during the era when Las Vegas thought it was going to be a family-friendly destination (what many call “The Bad Years”).

The sale focuses on the larger items from ‘ST:TE,’ including wall panels, furniture from Quark’s Bar, Starfleet costumes, and seats from the Klingon Encounter ride. Also on sale will be transporter room and hallway pieces from the Enterprise D replica that was part of the attraction.

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Everything is cash and carry (so, rent that huge moving van now), and no credit cards will be accepted.

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Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts in Las Vegas Leases Their Art

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston caused a tizzy of grand proportions six years ago when it leased 21 of its Monets to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art for an undisclosed price. The art world shrieked with fists of rage while Boston museum director Malcolm Rogers asserted that partnering with a for-profit has its perks: extra money in the public coffers and promotional benefits. 

Five years later the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego leased 17 contemporary works to the Bellagio gallery, giving Las Vegas a look at works by Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Sol Lewitt, Andy Warhol and others. 

Call it a financial boost for public institutions or an ethical slap in the face. Either way, Las Vegas, one of few cities in the United States without a public art institution, is reaping museum-quality works. 

Now in a one-two punch both institutions are shipping off their works to the Bellagio gallery for Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form opening May 1. 

The work spans from the 19th century to present day. Artists include Pierre-August Renoir, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Judith Shea and Yoshitomo Nara. Word has it that there will also be a Cindy Sherman coming in from the San Diego museum. 

Additionally, the MGM MIRAGE in Las Vegas is throwing in pieces from its own collection, including works by Renoir, Picasso, Edgar Degas and Fernand Leger.

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Emergency Art Comes to Rescue Las Vegas?

Sixth and Fremont may seem like an unlikely place for Las Vegas artists to congregate, and the El Cortez Casino may seem like an unlikely patron of the arts.  But the city’s growing supply of surplus real estate and downward spiraling financial vectors has opened up a budding entrepreneur opportunity reminiscent of SoHo in New York in the 60’s.   The business venture is called the Emergency Arts Creative Collective, Las Vegas’ latest contribution to the West Coast art scene. 

The El Cortez has a specific business need – increase foot traffic.  And the El Cortez also has an empty building just around the corner.  But opening another mini-mall collection of souvenir shops and yogurt bars won’t be enough to boost the number of Friday night slot players.  

What to do?  Why not take a page from the area South of Houston street in New York where, in the late 60’s, a dying bit of ill conceived government infrastructure that was turned into an art mecca of wide open spaces with great light and cheap rents.  The El Cortez is banking on it,  hoping that people will come to view exhibits and shop and then walk over to the casino for an evening’s entertainment.   

The local people behind the Emergency Arts are gallery owner Jennifer Harrington and her fiance Michael Cornthwaite, owner of the Downtown Cocktail Room.  “For a couple hundred dollars a month they [the artists] can have their own brick and mortar [location],” said Harrington. 

The Emergency Arts already has space rented to several artists, a vintage retailer, a coffee shop and a cafe.  On-site fixtures are being reused and recycled.  X-ray light panels will become part of a photographer’s display.  The large open sections of floor space, once the nurses stations and patient waiting areas, are being turned into general use display centers and communal meeting sights.  

“Part of the charm of this place are all the common areas, so people who rent very small spaces can come out here and use these bigger areas for meetings,” Harrington said. 

There’s a lot happening at Sixth and Fremont in Las Vegas now.  The April opening is just weeks away and more than 15 spots are still available for rent.  Those involved in the Emergency Arts Creative Collective are looking forward to introducing this artist venue to the Las Vegas community.  

Only time will tell if this is the beginning of a Vegas SoHo evolution.

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Burning Man Festival Gains Momentum

The official once-a-year celebration in Nevada occurs in Black Rock City, starting on Aug. 30 and running through Sept. 6.  But if you can’t afford to lose that much time from work – or simply don’t want to fry your ass with some 48,000 or so other radical and self-reliant Burning Man participants (called ”Burners”)  – there are other alternatives close to Las Vegas to get your radical art and nature urges on.

The first major event is “Forgotten City,” running April 22 through 25 in Nipton, California, one hour south of Las Vegas. 

The next artist conclave is on May 6 through 9 called, “Toast!” an Arizona burner event in Witch Well, Arizona.   Four days of large scale art, music, performance, and interactive participation. The Azburners are an interactive group of artists, performers, musicians and participants.  

Vegas Backstage Access has written many articles on “Burning Man” which can be searched on our site in the right hand column. 

And, here is a cool 360-degree movie style panoramic of the various enclaves comprising the big daddy Black Rock City event.

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Las Vegas Pawn Shop Doubles as Reality TV Show, Proving Junk Sells

Well, it’s not all junk.  But many may think their dust-collecting, largely abandoned asset won’t bring much money- that is until they haggle with Rick Harrison, center, or his father, Richard, left, or son Corey who co-own a hugely successful Las Vegas pawn shop, Gold and Silver Pawn. 

Recession?  What recession?  Boom times are out the roof, thanks in no small part to the History Channel’s hit reality TV series “Pawn Stars.” 

Back in July, before the show started, the family business about 70 customers a day that showed up at the 713 Las Vegas Blvd. South address. 

And now? “We do about 1,000 a day,” said beaming Rick Harrison. 

The 35 episodes of national TV exposure have doubled revenue and generated a non-stop waiting line of 50 customers throughout the day, which usually ends at 11 p.m. 

The Harrisons have even added a surreal touch for their customers: a velvet rope for crowd control, ala a Las Vegas nightclub. 

Two of the more shocking items that recently arrived: a bronze medal from the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics and a 1998 Denver Broncos Super Bowl ring.  Rick Harrison said he paid $700 for the medal and $11,000 for the bejeweled ring.  The medal came from a shoebox found in a garage by a son-in-law who was cleaning up after his wife’s father died. The family, who lived in the Midwest, was vacationing in Las Vegas and decided to sell the medal. 

“Names aren’t etched on Olympic medals so we have no idea who it belonged it to,” Harrison said. 

Harrison said the ring owner identified himself as a former landlord of Bronco safety Tori Noel, a late addition to the team roster. The former University of Tennessee standout saw little action that year in Denver, the first of back-to-back Super Bowl titles, and suffered a career-ending injury the next year during training camp. 

It’s not the only Super Bowl ring pawned at Gold and Silver. Harrison said he purchased Brock Williams’ ring from the 2002 Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots. 

Williams, a former cornerback at Notre Dame, was paid about $2,000 for the ring. He never returned to buy it back, Harrison said.

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Las Vegas’ New Art Junkie Mecca?

Believe it or not, Las Vegas does have a Downtown Arts District.  Yesiree, and, not only that, but they are offering up a second showing of cultural artsy-fartsy festivities with the inauguration of Third Friday this Friday, Jan. 15, starting around 6 p.m., running until approximately midnight. 

Following the footsteps of the economically challenged First Friday, now Las Vegans have the added opportunity to browse art galleries, enjoy the bands and mingle amongst fellow art fanatics twice a month — doubling the pleasure and doubling the fun- if not immediate income to producers. 

Taking place on the same Las Vegas streets and benefiting the same cause, Third Friday may be similar to First Friday in many ways, but it’s projected to vary slightly. 

While Cindy Funkhouse, of the Funk House and Fallout galleries, runs the beginning of the month installment, Cion Noble of the Box Office gallery and venue is coordinating this middle-of-the-month run. 

Hans Cewe , one of the owners of the Gypsy Den — a vintage boutique and art gallery which also triples as a music venue — is happy to see the rise of another event to bring people Downtown Las Vegas, hoping thing will expand from there. 

The Gypsy Den, also run by Cewe’s daughter Katie, will be offering up it’s stage to local bands for the night, with the lineup so far including local acts Vitamin Overdose, Close to Modern and The Marquees. 

Third Friday’s main focus is not merely on the patrons it brings Downtown, but also on the various artists involved. 

“It’s basically going to be a networking opportunity for creative people,” says Noble. “The theme is to network… I don’t anticipate vendors and crafts in the first couple of months — I’d like to see it grow into something that’s similar to First Friday eventually.” 

The mix of “creative people” so far set to ring in Third Friday’s opening night at the Box Office includes Cameron Grant, rock and blues bands Black Cherry Blue, Flux and JD Vittles, as well as a comedy improv and musical open mic event hosted by LV Freeze. 

In keeping with the idea of supporting Las Vegas arts, Funkhouse isn’t viewing the second installment as a threat. Instead she’s offering her support, “merely as a participant,” and opening her galleries’ doors — although she says the art on the walls will be the same as what’s viewed the first weekend of the month. “It’s not practical to change our show out every two weeks, that’d be too much work,” explains Funkhouse. 

If Third Friday catches on, perhaps the struggling downtown Las Vegas can look forward to a more regular crowd. Who knows, maybe a little more culture in our Sin City lives, with good eats, is a good thing.

Here’s a map of area, showing central Box Office.

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