Downtown Las Vegas has changed quite a bit in the last few years. So much so, that today I often have to think about what used to be standing only a few years ago. There are many lots that have been flattened or rebuilt. Portions of the landscape have become unfamiliar.
It is an odd feeling when I look at an empty lot or a new development and cannot remember what used to be there. Was what was there before of any worth, or was it simply unremarkable? It feels as if I am losing my memory. Obviously someone thought what is new was certainly of more worth in order to go ahead and finance, assemble, entitle, build, etc. But what I am getting at is a sort of amnesia of place.
Seems my work is all over the place; Architecture, public art, painting, poetry, film, installations, urban design, research, graphics, photography, sound works, etc. etc…. et. all off into the sunset. I just recently created this blog and started posting with little idea of how to organize past work. Seems I am in the midst of asking myself the same question.
The short answer is that I am educated as an architect. I went to schools that are more art based than engineering based. I work in a variety of mediums. I believe the most successful endeavors are ones that respond to the context in which they stand. I am not a specialist.
I was recently described as being “cavalier” in my attitude towards licensure. I took this to mean that I am not serious about my work. My immediate argument was that the majority of my work has come through extended thought and certainly through hard work. Rarely do I work from a position of superiority. It is the nature of my process to first understand, then act. I agree with L. Cohen when he says, “You get it, but you get it after sweating.”, in that good work rarely comes in a flash. It requires work.
Upon further thought, that argument is my attitude towards the work I do, not my attitude towards a license. It is true, that I have not actively pursued licensure requirements beyond obtaining a Master of Architecture. Not all arch grads do. Still, I was surprised when this fact was used against me.
So today, in order to move forward, I start to post work beyond photography. Work that will help me answer the age old questions of:
- Who am I?
- Among what do I move?
- What are my relations to these things?
Why does anyone care? Maybe you don’t. In the words of Sooo Corrente, all I can do is, “put it out there..”
Disposable income. This shot was taken pre-2008 with an estimate, at that time, of around 35 million visitors a year to Las Vegas. Last year there were over 40 million visitors, but they are spending less. Our facade in the desert continues.
The photo also documents what was a suggestion of an appropriate streetscape (trees have been replanted with smaller/younger specimens) that provided for walking in our summer months (the area occupies only a 160′ stretch of a 2500′ block and a 5000′ super block). Too bad the guardrail on the planter was placed at the outer edge of the bench. Go ahead and stand a minute (see showtimes), but please move on inside and spend some money if you want to sit..
Original photograph – © P. Fenkell
I live here in the desert. And while this is not a picture of my house, I still live under that sign. Everyone in this valley lives under that sign. It is part of the lure of Las Vegas. A sense that anything goes in this town. A siren song that calls some 40 plus million visitors a year to a place with no natural landmark, no port of call, no major export, and no ocean view.
Tourists may not be spending as much here these days, but they are still coming. Tourists may still be a good bet in the short term; however, if you plan to stay at the table, then you must have one eye on the water supply. When I ask, “What brought you here?” I hear a lot about opportunity, easy living, and relatively low taxes. Ever get a few extra stir sticks in your cocktail?
Hey bonus! Odds are you won’t even notice three straws in the lake.
Me? I’m here because leaving is simply not an option. So if here, then I will work to make this place the best it can be in face of it all, and hope the day doesn’t come when fate starts dealing me cards so dry and dusty that I know I should fold, because that too is not an option.
Original photograph – © P. Fenkell