With a complement of local artists, several distinguished visiting artists and a sprawling multimedia installation from OmegaMart creators Meow Wolf, the visual arts program of Life Is Beautiful 2023 continues and builds upon a festival tradition that has literally transformed the face of Downtown Las Vegas.
When crowds descend on the Fremont East corridor this weekend they’ll encounter a living museum of great street art from festivals past—and some fun new surprises, which the Weekly hasn’t seen yet. You’ll discover these pieces at the same time we do.
Downtown’s street art gallery gains a new piece from Seattle-based multimedia artist Neon Saltwater, who transformed the former gas station building at the corner of Fremont and 8th streets into “Mystery Cruise,” a piece that looks like dream-pop sounds, for LIB 2022. This year, once again under the guidance of longtime LIB art partner Justkids, Neon Saltwater is transforming another former gas station, this one next door to Gather House at Fremont and 10th, into “Cherry Lake,” another pastel 1980s dream.
Other featured works will include street signs of positive affirmations by Scott Froschauer; “Notes to Strangers” by Andy Leek; and prominent works from two locals: a reimagining of the giant, iconic Life Is Beautiful letters by Eric Vozzola, and a few pieces from neon impressionist Jerry Misko randomly placed throughout the festival grounds.
Mila May is creating limited-edition Big Dog’s Brewing Company beer cans for the festival; Color Punch Creative is providing kaleidoscopic designs that will be integrated into the festival fabric; and Pretty Done’s cheery art will line festival walkways, as it currently lines many of Downtown’s streets and alleys.
“It’s a really strong year for locals,” says Jess Demlow, who is curating—with husband Elliott—a collection of local art for LIB this year. The Demlows’ curation group Paints With Care is partnering with LIB and Meow Wolf to bring nearly 30 local artists to the festival, mixing well-known entities with hot up-and-comers. The local lineup includes Carbon Forge Design, Conner Graves, Gem Jaxx, Loisse Ledres, Miguel Hernandez, Pink House Creation, Marshall Scheuttle, Madeline Scribbles, Valentin Yordanov and Casey Weldon, whose works will appear on movable A-frames.
Paints With Care is also partnering with Families for Effective Autism Treatment (F.E.A.T.) to showcase works by young artists on the autism spectrum. “They’re collaborating with an artist who’s helping with the overall concept and design, and having the children add their [artworks] to the installation,” Demlow says. “It’s a really special moment, as you can imagine, for all 15 children as well as their families. This is something that we’re very passionate about.”
Finally, there are two art oases waiting to be explored: an LIB version of Downtown’s enduring and popular Market in the Alley, and “Party in the SubOrbs,” a Meow Wolf installation that takes over the Western Hotel space and, like everything the Santa Fe-based art collective does, is shrouded in mystery. Is it art? Is it performance? Is it interactive? Is it an actual neighborhood, and if so, is it in this dimension? We can’t wait to find out. –Geoff Carter