Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pictorial: Vegas Utility Boxes


It is often said that when you get away from the Strip, suburban Las Vegas lacks the panache and glamor of the destination that bears its name. Oh, there's a wacky piece of 1970s architecture or intriguing historic houses, and realtors Jack LeVine and Roberta LaRocca spend many a blog post showing them and discussing them.

But in my part of town, about four or five miles east of The Strip's core, there's one odd form of public art that really, truly reminds us we're not in Phoenix or Tucson, both of which would otherwise be easy to imagine.

That, above, is a utility box. It is found at the northeast corner of Eastern and Desert Inn, right outside a Starbucks. Forever, I thought it was an actual TV. Then I realized it was a mural but I didn't put it together until I noticed these:

I really don't know whose art it is or whose idea it is. But that is, indeed, the Wayner (top in blue) and Gladys Knight (top in orange), Young Blue Eyes (middle in blue), the Nevada flag (middle, foreground) and Sammy Davis Jr. (bottom). The Sinatra and Gladys box is the same; the Sammy and Wayner boxes are the same. They're also on the north side of Desert Inn a few blocks east (I think) of the Frank Rosenthal box.

I wish I'd shot clearer images of the other sides, not sure why I didn't. I believe that's an African-American man and a baby in the second image behind the Nevada flag and I just don't recall what the yellow image was in the top image.

Are there more of these around the city? Anyone know who the artist is? I'm fascinated, but not fascinated enough at this very moment to make some calls on it. Let's see if someone can say.

UPDATE #1: Reader/Listener Gary (@SocialMediaGary) from New York spotted this. Evidently, there just was a new contest on to paint the utility boxes in the historic West Las Vegas region. So this must be an earlier version of that. The difference is that the ones in my region seem to all be by the same artist and all have an Old Vegas theme to them. According to this video, the new round does not.

UPDATE #2: Artist Suzanne Hackett-Morgan wrote me on Facebook: "Hey...those TVs (there's more than one) are mine! It featured local tv shows from different eras: The Frank Rosenthal Show, Count Cool Rider and Miss Cinderella. The Nate Tannenbaum box was the big one in the middle but it got plowed into... by a car and Nevada Energy (nee NV Power) wouldn't agree to let us repaint it. Patrick Gaffey at Winchester was the brains behind the whole project which featured a bunch of us local brush swishers: K.D. Matheson, Marty Walsh, Susanne Forestieri, Anthony (forgot his last name), Erin Stellmon, Jose Bellver, Jorge Catoni, and Shan Michael Evans. I'm glad you thought it was a real guy crossed the street when I was working on another one and said "I'm gonna grab me that free tv."


gwapnitsky said...

Here's some info Steve.

Roberta LaRocca said...

Steve, I think you'll find what you're looking for here at Clark Co. The ZAP program started in 2005

Also, thanks for the mention!