‘Books’ Category

‘Beneath the Neon’ lures visitors into hidden world beneath Las Vegas

June 30th, 2008

Based on a series of articles that originally ran in Las Vegas CityLife, Matthew O’Brien‘s 2007 book Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas (Huntington Press) chronicles the hidden world of those living in the flood channels beneath Sin City. Local artist and cultural purveyor Brian “Paco” Alvarez has recreated the world captured by O’Brien with the installation of “Beneath the Neon: The Exhibition” at the Contemporary Arts Collective gallery inside the Arts Factory (101 E. Charleston Blvd.).

Beneath the NeonThe exhibit is designed to recreate the aesthetics and environment of the storm drains, surrounding visitors with claustrophobic realism via graffiti, garbage, water, gravel and other discarded items composing the makeshift living spaces O’Brien discovered below the Entertainment Capital of the World. Left with only a narrow path between all the desolation around them, patrons are left feeling somewhat jarred and discomforted.

The exhibit also includes a side gallery curated by Alvarez featuring artifacts and photos from the tunnel explorations, as well as a video capturing some of O’Brien’s adventures. “Beneath the Neon: The Exhibition” runs through July 24. If you missed the preview reception on June 26, a pre-First Friday reception will be held Thursday, July 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. as well as a panel discussion and book signing on Thursday, July 17 at the same time.

Booze, music and mystery writers: ‘Las Vegas Noir’ launches tonight

May 8th, 2008

Las Vegas Noir coverIf there’s ever a match made in heaven – well, we guess more like purgatory or something more hellish – it’s liquor and writers. So it’s fully appropriate that tonight, May 8, at 7 p.m., the launch party for Las Vegas Noir is being held at the Freakin’ Frog (4700 Maryland Parkway).

Las Vegas Noir is the latest in Akashic Books’ series of city-specific, original noir anthologies, edited by Jarret Keene and Todd James Pierce. A number of contributing authors will be on hand for tonight’s party, including Pablo Medina, Christine McKellar, Bliss Esposito, Lori Kozlowski, Felicia Campbell, Jaq Greenspon, and Vu Tran. Following the reading and signing, local space-rock band Love Pentagon will perform.

Amber Unicorn Books is bringing bookish back

April 8th, 2008

Oh, look, more stuff for Andrew Kiraly to burn!

Oh, sure, new and used bookstores are closing around the Las Vegas Valley even as a new Borders megastore is opening — with less actual books than your average Borders location. But does this mean the used bookstore has gone the way of the mid-1970s casino in Sin City? Not if Myrna and Lou Donato have anything to say about it.

Their store, Amber Unicorn Books, opened just last week at 2101 S. Decatur Blvd. #14, next to Trader Joe’s at the corner of O’Bannon Drive. The tall, library-like shelves are mostly empty still, but already the selection is promising, and the prices are reasonable. It might be a while before the strip mall’s new occupant allures with that sweet aroma of musky book pages, but we’re told the owners still have 300 to 400 boxes to unpack of their initial 15-ton literary booty.

If you’re a Trader Joe’s regular (and why wouldn’t you be?), Amber Unicorn is offering 10 percent off with your receipt from the alt-grocer during its grand opening celebration, just one more incentive to get your behind over there soon. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call 702-648-9303.

‘Beneath the Neon’ author goes solo, gets creative

December 20th, 2007

Las Vegas CityLife staff writer and former news editor Matthew O’Brien announced yesterday on his blog that he’ll be leaving the alternative weekly paper after 10 years as a writer and editor for the Stephens Media publication.

Matt O’Brien“I want to challenge myself more as a ‘creative’ writer,” O’Brien wrote at Beneaththeneon.com. “I want to write more books, screenplays, essays, commentaries, book reviews, etc., and less news stories and news briefs. While I really like reporting, I want to use my own voice more. It’s time for new challenges.”

This announcement comes in the wake of the loss of another long-time CityLife staffer, Kevin Capp, as well as the success of O’Brien’s first book, Beneath the Neon. Released earlier this year, the Huntington Press publication — based on a series of articles originally published in the CityLife by O’Brien and Joshua Ellis — received positive notices all around for its explorations into the lives of the homeless beneath the streets of Las Vegas. The author took an extended sabbatical from his CityLife duties a few years ago to work on the book, which, according to his website, he is developing into a screenplay.

Downtown Las Vegas — not just for hookers and crackheads … mostly

November 2nd, 2007

Occasionally — or maybe more often, but outside of this insider’s perspective — Las Vegas’ art scene actually makes itself visible outside of the monthly ruckus that is First Friday. Yesterday was one such day, where the axes of the universe aligned to draw moderate interest to downtown, both in the beleaguered Arts District and the now neon-lit Entertainment District.

Over at Marty Walsh’s Trifecta Gallery (inside the Arts Factory, 103 E. Charleston Blvd.), Eric Joyner was on hand for the opening reception of his new show, “A Twist of Fate.” There were (of course) donuts on hand for the donuts-and-robots-themed show. I made it over there with perfect timing: after the crowds (well, assuming there were crowds) left, but before Joyner left. We had a nice conversation about his art, my robot tattoo and how his mother basically bribed him into attending church with donuts.

Jerry Misko’s Smoke & Chanel Around the corner (OK, technically around three corners and about half a mile south) at Rick Dominguez and Cindy Funkhouser’s Fallout gallery (1551 S. Commerce St.), most of the same crowd that attended Joyner’s reception showed up for the opening of Jerry Misko’s new exhibit, “Smoke & Chanel.” Yes, it was more of Misko’s signature paintings of neon signs. But damn, no one paints neon signs with more vibrancy or compositional creativity than Jerry Misko. Now, if only I could ever afford one of his damn pieces.

Though your faithful blogger did not make it over there, the Downtown Cocktail Room (111 Las Vegas Blvd. S.) hosted an opening party for the Vegas Valley Book Festival, which runs this weekend, partially in concurrence with First Friday, which–oh look at that–runs tonight from 6 – 10 p.m. in the Arts District. There are some pretty cool readings, workshops and events taking place for this year’s Book Festival–follow the link above to find out more.

And don’t forget, among all the other First Friday nonsense and above-mentioned shows, “Wanksy” opens at Art Bar (1511 S. Main St.) tonight, presumably during the same time frame as all other First Friday nonsense. Look for the 16-foot “Wanksy” spray-painted on the side of the bar’s lime green exterior. Want more info? You should totally click here to read a certain awesome preview of the show and comments from the artists.

Joyner brings his robots, donuts and more to Trifecta

October 31st, 2007

You have to appreciate an artist who is not afraid to paint things he just loves. Like donuts. Or robots. Or, even better, donuts and robots together on the same canvas. Such is the life of San Francisco artist Eric Joyner, whose first Las Vegas exhibit, “A Twist of Fate,” debuts at Trifecta Gallery inside the Arts Factory (103 E. Charleston Blvd. #108) with a reception Thursday from 5 – 8 p.m.

Joyner’s photo-realistic paintings depict classic tin robots, fluffy glazed donuts and … other figures such as Godzilla, Las Vegas neon signs and lollipops, juxtaposing the seemingly unrelated subjects into subtle commentaries on conflict and peace.

Visitors to Trifecta during the duration of the show–which runs through November 30–can also pre-order a signed copy of Joyner’s forthcoming Dark Horse book, “Robots & Donuts.”