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Give a little, live a little
Someone was gently tsk-tsking me
Next month in Desert Companion
Wow, what a trip: It’s our travel and discovery issue
4 | Desert
recently on having a “scarcity mindset,” that fearful executive hoarder mentality that assumes your time, energy and money are under constant threat of theft by everyone around you — people who, in this jaundiced world-view, aren’t so much actual people as soul-devouring vampires. (Not exactly the most charitable way to think of, say, a friend who asks for a ride home because his car’s in the shop — oh no! I’ll be home late for Netflix!) The theory is that what starts out as a healthy awareness of the value of your own time, money and energy curdles into a pucker-hearted scrooginess that turns holistic frugality into a obsessive vice, cutting off opportunities for growth and new experiences and, more significantly, turning you into something of an unfun jerkhole. Point taken. Nobody wants to be a jerkhole. That said, we got ourselves some busy lives, and we can’t all be sainting around town like Mother Theresa, dispensing miracle levels of love and charity. Is it too cynical to ask that giving back to the community sometimes be a little convenient? Not at all. There’s something really cool happening that does just that: Nevada’s Big Give. No lugubrious schmaltzfest telethons, no chestpounding pledge drives. Organized by nonprofit Nevada Gives, it’s a one-day philanthropalooza April 25 that happens solely online at nvbiggive.org. On that day, you go to the website, pick a charitable Nevada cause you love, and break out the plastic. “Online giving is the wave of the fu-
Companion | April 2013
ture,” says Liz Vohwinkel, the event’s PR and marketing chair. “It’s much more efficient — and cheap — than traditional fundraising.” If that’s the case, why not just a standing website that allows people to give 24/7? Psychology. “The idea of limiting it to one day is to get people really pumped up,” she says. Of course, the website has softopened, and you can give now. But besides that, it’s simply inspiring and instructive (and a bit mind-boggling) to browse the dizzying range of charitable causes and nonprofits (more than 500) that are doing great things in the Las Vegas Valley in areas as diverse as education, health and arts and culture. (Disclosure-type thing: Yes, Nevada Public Radio is participating.) “It allows everyone to find something they’re passionate about,” says Vohwinkel. Beyond raising money for a worthy collection of nonprofits, a secondary mission of this year’s Big Give is to initiate newbies into the giving spirit. “We’re pushing to not only raise awareness and funds, but we’re hoping to raise the amount of individual giving and unique donors — especially those who have not donated to a nonprofit before,” Vohwinkel says. In 2011, Nevada’s Big Give raised $413,000 for 463 nonprofits. This year, they want to shatter that record, setting their goal at $1 million. Vohwinkel — who, like the rest of the Big Give crew, does this on a volunteer basis — doesn’t have a pet cause herself. Actually, that’s not true. Her cause is getting people involved in their cause. “I’m passionate about get-
ting people involved in whatever ignites their passion,” she says. “That’s the key to real systemic change.” * * * We want you to get snappy with
us. Have you entered the Desert Companion “Focus on Nevada” photo contest yet? Don’t wait — the May 5 deadline is just around the corner. Whether you’re a pro photographer with a robo-camera from the future or a smartphone shutterbug who takes quaint pictures of your breakfast, you’re encouraged to enter. The prizes are huge, entry is free and uploading your photos is easy as a grainy Instagram photo of pie. Enter now at desertcompanion.com. Andrew Kiraly Editor
SENIOR HUNGER IS IN OUR HANDS 4 color process
Older individuals who are going hungry are not just the ones you don’t see. They’re our neighbors, our friends, and our family. They need our help. That’s why, since 2002, the Caesars Foundation has emphasized its support of nonprofit advocacy and servicedelivery organizations dedicated to helping older individuals live independently, maintain optimal health and proper nutrition, avoid social isolation, and enjoy mental and physical vitality through every stage of the aging process. To date more than $5 million in direct support and food delivery vehicles for organizations such® as The will to do wonders®
Meals On Wheels Association of American and AARP have been gifted across the nation to provide meals to thousands of older individuals. This month the 50th donated vehicle will be given to MOWAA in a Las Vegas star studded event hosted by Caesars Entertainment and Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. Learn more at www.caesarsfoundation.com. Join the conversation at facebook.com/caesarsfoundation.
® The will to do wonders®
contents desert companion magazine // desertcompanion.com
All Things to All People
The trash whisperer By Andrew Kiraly
Environment Earth angels By Megan Edwards
Raze the roof By Scott Dickensheets
Elaine Wynn speaks By Steve Friess
This will be huge By Maureen Adamo
The street of eats By Brock Radke
From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture
Notes from underground By Andrew Kiraly
FEATURES 57 Personal space
These homeowners showcase their pastimes, passions â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and obsessions 6 | Desert
Companion | April 2013
on the cover
68 Soft and sweet
This seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s look features pastels with a little pop
76 Domestic bliss
Romance comes home this season in casual fashion
Photography Robert John Kley Joie pink blouse, $158 Patterson J. Kincaid lavender leather top, $248 Rebecca Taylor lavender skirt, $295 Lacca Nuage hobo, $995 Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show Mall BCBG MAXAZRIA necklace, $178 BCBG in Town Square Tarina Tarantino rosebud post earrings, $15 Tarina Tarantino electric butterfly organza ring, $40 tarinatarantino.com
C O V E R : S t y l i n g , C h r i s t i e M oe l l er ; H a i r & M a k e u p, Kr y s t l e R a n d a l L ; M o d e l , B r i t t, E n v y M o d e l M a n a g eme n t; Ho u se a n d D i n i n g : c h r i s sm i t h ; Des i g n : B i l l H u g h es ; d a n i e l l e b a sso n : bre n t h o l mes
ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY, TONY DESARE and Special Guest LANDAU EUGENE MURPHY perform THE AMERICAN SONGBOOK
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A portrait of a feisty Jewish woman who has survived some of the major events that shaped the 20th century with humor, guile, and spirit.
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Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley. Publisher Melanie Cannon Editor Andrew Kiraly Art Director Christopher Smith Cephalophyllum (Red Spike Ice Plant)
Aquilegia caerulea (Rocky Mountain Columbine)
Color in the desert! Color in YOUR garden full of flowers, in EVERY season! Desert plants emit radiant color and create flower shows throughout the year. Hummingbirds, butterflies, ladybugs…and people…all flourish in a colorful garden. We know how to enrich your outdoor living experience!
Graphic Designer Brent Holmes Sales and marketing manager Christine Kiely National account manager Laura Alcaraz Account executives Sharon Clifton, Robyn Mathis, Carol Skerlich, Markus Van’t Hul Marketing Associate Lisa Kelly Subscription manager Chris Bitonti
2 2 2 2 2 2
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 1 1 1
Web administrator Danielle Branton
7 8 9 0 1 2
Contributing writers Maureen Adamo, Chantal Cororan, Cybele, Elisabeth Daniels, Scott Dickensheets, Megan Edwards, Steve Friess, Alan Gegax, Mélanie Hope, Molly Michelman, Christie Moeller, Brock Radke, Norm Schilling Contributing artists Bill Hughes, Robert John Kley, Jerry Metellus, Sabin Orr
Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856; email@example.com
Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813;
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Companion | april 2013
Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: www.desertcompanion.com Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at desertcompanion.com, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photos, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.
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Susan malick Brennan, chair Brennan Consulting Group, LLC cynthia alexander, ESQ. vice chair Snell & Wilmer TIM WONG, treasurer Arcata Associates Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio
shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp kevin m. buckley First Real Estate Companies Louis Castle, Director emeritus Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus KIRK V. CLAUSEN Wells Fargo Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair emeritus City of Las Vegas jan L. jones Caesars Entertainment Corporation John R. Klai II Klai Juba Architects Lamar Marchese, President Emeritus William mason Taylor International Corporation Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil Peter O’Neill R&R Partners William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation kathe nylen PBTK Consulting Anthony j. pearl, esq. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP Mickey Roemer, Director Emeritus Roemer Gaming
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10 | Desert
Companion | april 2013
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NE W S
to all people
PEOP L E C OMM U NIT Y S H OP G AR D EN
Wet and mild
p h oto : B r e n t H o l m e s
The trash whisperer Oh, this could be one of those boring recycling stories. Oh, it could be about keeping cans, bottles, paper and other recyclable goodies out of the landfill. Yes, it could be about businesses and government saving money and resources thanks to “thinking green.” Yes, it could be about yet another “green business.” But then comes the hook and some juicy statistics: How this small local company SimpleESG has since 2008 diverted more than 67 million cubic feet of trash from the landfill and saved businesses and taxpayers $3.5 million. All by poking around in the garbage. “The thing with trash is, most people don’t think to even pay attention to it,” says Danielle Basson, director of operations for SimpleESG. “If a business owner is looking at their general ledger, the trash bill is just a figure they pay for every month. It’s the last thing they pay attention to. But any business, at a minimum, should have 50 percent recycling and 50 percent trash. But most businesses are more like 90 percent (trash) and 10 percent (recycling).” Basson’s job is almost painfully straightforward: Her team studies what you’re throwing away — and then teaches you how to throw it away better. What’s not common is their scrutiny, which studies how trash flows from the cubicle trash can to the dumpster out back. When SimpleESG performs an audit — a process that can take weeks, even months — everyone gets in on the dialogue, from bosses to rankand-filers. “The thing with recycling is that you’re changing habits, so it takes 30 to 60 days to change that,” Basson says. “With clients, we go to door-to-door at shopping centers, do PowerPoints at managers’ meetings, whatever it takes.” She laughs. “We really babysit the process. That’s why our program works — we don’t leave.” Case study: The City of Las Vegas, which hired SimpleESG last year to improve its recycling rate, largely by making recycling bins more easily accessible in city parks, offices and other facilities.
Taking the trash out: Danielle Basson
On the eastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley is a minor miracle known as the Clark County Wetlands Park: nearly 3,000 acres of wetlands, complete with duck-filled ponds and flowing water. Open since 2001, the park has traditionally greeted visitors with … a pair of drab trailers in a gravel parking lot. Not anymore. Now, a $21 million “Nature Center” has taken the place of those trailers, complete with a 100-seat auditorium, a café streaming live video from within the preserve, an on-site research laboratory, and 15,000 square feet of observation
“They helped us rightsize our trash service,” says Tom Perrigo, the city’s director of sustainability. That recycling continued on pg. 14 revolution translated into fewer garbage pickups and fewer trash bins to pay for. Because of that, this fiscal year, the city expects to shave $300,000 off its annual trash bill, which is usually about $821,000. Another sweet stat: Since hiring SimpleESG, the city has gone from recycling 20 percent of its trash to 53 percent. Bottom lines like that are great, but BasKeep up with Desert son sees something else you can’t plug into Companion events, news a spreadsheet. “When we were trying to get and bonus features at clients five years ago, they would always ask, desertcompanion.com. ‘How much can you save us?’ Now they hire us not just because of the savings, but because it’s the right thing to do.” — Andrew Kiraly
Can music be recycled? As easy as a song. Hear how on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcompanion.com/hearmore DesertCompanion.com | 13
decks. But don’t visit for the shiny new buildings. Getting outside is what the Wetlands Park is all about, and to that end they offer six trailheads accessing about 13 miles of trails. The meandering paths wind through voluminous stands of reeds, past emerald ponds, and along a rushing stream that channels recycled water back to Lake Mead. In the middle of a largely barren desert, the Wetlands Park offers the chance to encounter genuine wildlife, from migrating birds to rabbits and even coyotes. If you’re a building freak, there’s something for you, too: The center used recycled structural beams, insulation from shredded blue jeans, sustainably harvested bamboo flooring, and design features like a white “cool roof” to reduce cooling costs. Whether indoors or out, the upgraded Clark County Wetlands Park is shaping up to be a fine spot for a bit of nature in our urban wilds. — Alan Gegax
This suds for you: Magic Wash
ON THE TOWN Poet Amaranth Borsuk has a wild side when it comes to experimental writing — including love letters you can only read with a webcam. She reads 7 p.m. April 16 at UNLV’s Greenspun Hall Auditorium. Info: blackmountaininstitute.org
14 | Desert
Companion | April 2013
The laundromat comes clean It’s a family holiday get-together, and you’re expecting a full house. The brioche is rising, the tea is brewing and you’re ready to freshen Grandma’s vintage tablecloth with a light wash. Then: Crash! Bang! Thud! The washer is dead. What are you going to do with only hours before everyone arrives? The laundromat? That dreary den of flickering fluorescent lights and sketchy characters mumbling to themselves? Not anymore. The age-old institution of the laundromat has gotten a surprising makeover — actually, make that a full-on spin cycle. Today’s laundromats offer high-def TVs, computer stations, free Wi-Fi, even billiards — not to mention high-tech washers that promise to brighten your whites and baby your delicates. Those are just a few of the perks at the Laundry Lounge (4343 N. Rancho Road, 656-0427, laundryloungelasvegas.com). “People that used to go the competition come here because of the environment we offer,” says co-owner Jodi Vecchio. “I know how it is to have to drag your laundry out of the house and have to go somewhere else, so I want my customers to feel like they’re at home.” Customer Johna Thacker doesn’t hesitate to come here when her appliances are on the fritz. “It’s
clean. You feel safe here — because a lot of them are kinda scary,” she says. How about feeling pampered? Try one of the two massage chairs at Magic Wash (1120 S. Decatur Blvd., 259-3007, magicwashlv.com). Owner Young Lee sums up the appeal of the recliner rubdown: “People, they get tired doing laundry.” Magic Wash also courts repeat customers with free coffee, flat screen TVs, granite countertops, fairytale wall murals and well-stocked vending machines. While Lee is feature-focused, he hasn’t forgotten his core mission. He complements his on-site fluff-n-fold and alterations services with brand-new washers and a two-cycle wash program: an eight-minute pre-wash followed by a main wash using a fresh water cycle (no extra charge). Finally, Wash-n-Fun Laundromat (4425 Stewart Ave., 570-5724, washnfun.net) takes its name seriously. Amusement games line one wall to keep the kids entertained, and adults can drop some coin into the slot machines by the front desk — or take care of business with fax and copying services. Heavy-duty machines easily dispatch Fifi’s fur and other cleaning conundrums. It’s just another way to come clean in Sin City. — Elisabeth Daniels
l a u n d r o m at: B r e n t h OLMES
continued from pg.13
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For Tickets Visit: CIRQUEDUSOLEIL.COM/VEGASLOCALS *Management reserves all rights. Offers are subject to change and based on availability. Zumanity was created for guests 18 years and older. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Must present Nevada State ID at box office at time of pick up.
16 | Desert
Companion | April 2013
Shakeh Ghoukasian dean, nevada school of the arts PHOTOGRAPH BY bill hughes
• Shakeh Ghoukasian knew she was doing something right as a violin instructor when a high-powered federal lawyer thanked her. The lawyer was a former student she’d taught more than a decade earlier. “He said to me, ‘I have to tell you, yours was the one class where I had to really come and deliver, where I had to have the work done, where I couldn’t wing it. It really helped me get through law school, because I had to do my depositions in the same way.’ It reminded me that learning an instrument really instills a lifelong sense of discipline.” • Ghoukasian is dean of the Nevada School of the Arts (nsamusic.org), a small, private nonprofit music instruction school downtown. The myth: It’s an elite institution for bow-waving string savants or snobby piano wunderkinds. “Because our students do so well, we are thought of as elite,” says Ghoukasian, also principal second violinist for the Las Vegas Philharmonic. “That’s an image we’ve been trying to dispel.” The reality: It’s a small but sharp music instruction school that, they like to say, welcomes everyone from age 4 to 94. “Anyone can come. There are no auditions. We welcome all socioeconomic backgrounds.” And they embrace instruments that fall well outside what you’d find in an orchestra: Brazilian drum camp, anyone? • Originally chartered in 1977, the school has bumped around town for decades, until recently settling at the Historic Fifth Street School. “We’ve always been at somebody else’s doorstep, but we’re finally establishing an identity here. We’ve been a best-kept secret for the longest time, and now we want to let people know
we’re here.” (Hear what they’ve been up to 7 p.m. May 10, when students join pros for their “Musical Crossroads” concert at the Historic Fifth Street School.) • Ghoukasian began her studies at age 6 at the Tchaikovsky School of Music in Yerevan, in then-Soviet Armenia. “The instruction style is very stern and formidable,” she says. “They don’t really look at individual students. You’re part of a bigger picture. Oh, the teachers were wonderful, but the overall system is very strict.” She continued her instruction when she immigrated to the U.S. at 16, discovering a teaching method that prized the individual. “I learned you can still be very disciplined, very demanding, but also have incredible humanity.” • The Nevada School of the Arts embraces a “very loving yet very precise” Suzuki Method, which favors nurture over nature. “I think talent is overrated,” Ghoukasian says. “We as humans tend to peg people as creative or with a natural ear for music, but students have proved me wrong on that thinking so many times. If the opportunity is given and the environment is right, most human beings have the ability to do things that are beautiful.” • “I tell parents of new students that it requires tolerating a certain noise level when they’re beginning because, let’s face it, it’s really not beautiful when they’re starting out,” she says with a laugh. “But when that moment comes when the student finds the tone, or something clicks, or there’s that perfect coordination of brain and hand — that’s just a really joyous moment.” — Andrew Kiraly
DesertCompanion.com | 17
t r e n d s e t t e r : s t yl i s h l a s v e g a n s
Embrace the unexpected: Jonathan Glenn Nichols
Owner, J. Glenn Home, Decor & Jewelry in Boca Park
Your personal style? Sophisticated yet flirty. I believe a man always looks best in a coat and tie, but have no problem throwing a gaudy ring into the mix or an unexpected tie. I love ties from Psycho Bunny, mixing tennis rackets with a bunny skull and crossbones. Favorite designer? Lanvin. I love the mix they create with unique cut and fabric combinations. It is a true art. I believe fashion in general is not just clothing but wearable artwork. It is not just another shirt. It is all in the stitching, buttons and fabric that make the piece. What spring trend will you test-drive this season? Slippers. There were a few great ones this past fall, but they will be huge in spring. Most of all, they are comfortable. Del Toro makes the best. They have a small but great custom program as well. Color trend pick for spring/summer 2013? Tangerine is big this season, but I always go for the boldest color. I may take it down a notch this season and go for emerald, but it has yet to be decided. If you see me out and about in tangerine, don’t be surprised. If emerald has won the Pantone color of the year, then the Mayans were right and the world is ending. They were just wrong on the date. I couldn’t live without ... A tie. Necktie or bowtie, I don’t leave home without at least two. I just spent some time in Peru hiking Machu Picchu and I did so in a tie. If I fell to my death, at least they would find me looking my best. Also, I did most of it in Prada loafers; who said you couldn’t hike in Pradas? I wouldn’t be caught dead in ... Crocs! I think I just threw up in my mouth just saying it. When I see someone wearing them, I ask “Why? Why? Why?” They always respond, “Comfort.” I want to run them straight to Nordstrom and buy them a pair of TOMS. Just as comfortable but not nearly as scary. Since I am revealing so many secrets, I have to confess. I secretly love the Snuggie. I was hoping Lora Piana would do one in cashmere and mink, but that never happened, so I bought a Michigan State Snuggie on clearance from CVS Pharmacy. I splurge on ... Shoes. No price is too much. If I have it, I spend it.
True colors: Jonathan Glenn Nichols
I have been known to buy eight pairs of shoes in one sitting. It also keeps people focused on my feet and not my large forehead formed by male pattern baldness. I skimp on ... Underwear. I am always shocked by the price of chonies! Really, most of them are $25 and up. No one is going to see them, so why? I get so upset every time I need to replenish, but what can I do? I did just find some on Gilt.com for around $10. That price made me happy. Fashion icon you’re most inspired by? Carson Kressley. He always looks great. His mix of bold patterns and color always impresses me. He really inspires me to dress better. Top grooming tip for men? Put some lotion on that skin. Men do not hydrate their skin as much as they should. This Las Vegas desert really dries you out. After every shower I rehydrate my skin with a great body lotion. For the past eight years, Jo Malone Amber and Lavender body lotion has done the trick. And please don’t forget your face. I love a mix of Dr. Sebagh High Maintenance Cream and pure Vitamin E serum. You only get one body, so keep it looking its best. — Christie Moeller
Celebrity jewelry designer Melinda Maria believes you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to look like a million. Her design philosophy: Create beautiful, high-quality jewels that look real, but are actually fine crafted costume jewelry. The result: stunning pieces that can be worn to everything from red-carpet events to nights out. With a huge, A-list celebrity fan base, including Mila Kunis, Vanessa Hudgens, Naomi Watts, Khloe Kardashian, and many more, the line has been dramatically expanding over the past few years — and starting this month, Melinda Maria jewels are available at Nordstrom in the Fashion Show Mall. Info: melindamaria.com —CM
18 | Desert
Companion | April 2013
POrtrait By Sabin ORR
E a r r i n g s Co u r t e sy M e l i n da M a r i a
Th e r e a l ( i s h ) d e a l
g r ow yo u r ow n
This mulch is true
All about the birds, bees and butterflies One joy of desert gardening is how easy it is to attract hummingbirds and butterflies into your garden. Better yet, many of the best plants for the job are tough, dependable and beautiful. Here are a few of my favorites. For hummingbirds Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora): This tough desert succulent looks somewhat like a grass with its upright, arching leaves. Growing to a height of about three feet, long slender flower stalks emerge in spring and grow to four to five feet with successions of red/yellow flowers lasting through summer. It’s a great plant in front of lower windows, for the bulk Woolly butterfly bush of the plant sits below while the blooms grow into view — and you get to watch the little cuties come and feed every day. Autumn sage (Salvia greggii): This perennial grows to about two feet tall and wide and blooms with lots of crimson flowers, spring through late fall. Hummers love it — and will bypass other plants to get to it. While well-adapted for our desert soils, it prefers some shade and to be kept a bit moister than other desert specimens. Remove spent flower twigs if you pre-
fer throughout the year, or just cut back hard in winter.
For butterflies Woolly butterfly bush (Buddleja marrubiifolia): This desert beauty grows to about five feet tall and wide, so give it room to grow. The silver foliage provides great contrast when planted near greener-leafed species. Tiny orange flowers emerge in marble-sized balls in spring but can occur almost any time in the growing season. Skyflower (Duranta erecta): While a bit thirstier than other desert plants, this large shrub-tree is tolerant of our soils and rewards you with spectacular flower shows that attract butterflies like no other plant I know. The small, five-petaled flowers are purple with white margins and grow in long clusters that arch and hang. This plant can be robed with many thousands of the delicate beauties open at once! — Norm Schilling
Want to know the key to growing non-desert plants in Southern Nevada? Use organic (wood-chip) mulch. Here’s why. While desert species naturally grow in poor soils (read: ours), plants that originate in more temperate regions hate our soils. They want greater organic content, higher nutrient levels and less alkalinity, and organic mulch naturally creates those conditions as it slowly decomposes, enters and, eventually, radically changes soil. While a small circle of wood-chips at the base of a plant is of some benefit, you’re better off with large swaths, for roots often extend beyond the canopy of the plant. Where I first placed woodchips in my garden more than 15 years ago, the soils have completely transformed. They’re rich, dark brown and so healthy for my beloved almond trees and all the little perennials that grow under them. NS
Few plants offer greater variety and interest than succulents, with their fat, fleshy leaves. While a zillion different types exist, many are tiny beings perfect for gracing pots both indoors and out. Varieties exist in many exotic forms from miniature artichokes to clusters of teardrop-shaped leaves. The colors can also be stunning, from purple to silver-blue. Generally, they prefer to be kept on the dry side and can also be cold-sensitive, so beware of overwatering and cold winter weather. Because of their tiny size, they look great when planted around a larger, bold specimen. And because they prefer to dry out between waterings, they’re perfect for outdoor pots; most need
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Companion | April 2013
to be watered only once a week in the hottest part of summer. Keep in mind, though, that they’re often shade-lovers, so give them filtered sun or afternoon shade. The tiny size also makes them excellent for indoor dish gardens. Keep them in a bright room or place them occasionally outdoors in shade. Their bizarre forms are great for an eye-catching little planting on a tabletop or windowsill. My favorites: Graptopetalum, Echeveria, Sansevieria and the many varieties of aloe. Each has won a special spot in my heart and my pot — both indoors and out. NS
p h oto s : b r e n t h o l m e s
Weird, wonderful succulents
Listen to a discussion of Rex Bell’s post-Hollywood political career on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcompanion.com/hearmore
A silent film star once fled to a remote Searchlight ranch for a respite from Hollywood. Can the storied Walking Box Ranch become a hub for history and education? By ANdrew Kiraly
Petal power: the All these years later, silent film star wildflowers of Clara Bow still doesn’t need words. Even today she Ridgecrest can send classic film buffs into swooning fits of nearly mesmerized ardor. Her eyes — now smoldering, now coy, now like deep pools of pure come-hither. Her mouth — at once pouting and playful. Her face — almost acrobatic in its ability to express wordless emotion (but never elastic, hammy or cartoonish). In the numerous documentaries about Clara Bow — America’s premier silent film actress, Hollywood’s first sex symbol, the flapper goddess — critics and historians talk about her like an otherworldly force on the screen. You hear the fuss and then you see her yourself. Fiery talent: Clara Bow relaxes in front They’re right. She’s such a natural it’s almost superof the fireplace at Walking Box Ranch. natural. Silent film fanatics (yes, they exist) often talk about how she “leaps” and “explodes” from the grainy, jerky, two-dimensional screen. But maybe it’s more maybe much of any company — Clara Bow was declared to have “it.” accurate to say the strange freshness of her presence makes it seem as (Whispered: sex appeal!) They even made a movie about her having “it.” though she’s been imposed on the screen after the fact and from outside (The movie was titled “It.”) time. And we cannot miss mention of her plainspoken, tomboyish sex All her sexy amazingness was spent on the equivalent of dime-store potappeal. In an era when sex was not talked about in polite company — or boilers: At the height of her productivity, Bow was churning out dozens
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Rising star: After the silver screen, Rex Bell would pursue politics.
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of films for exploitative flick mills such as Preferred Pictures. Between the grueling schedule, her near-legendary penchant for partying and Bow’s chronic insomnia, it’s little surprise that the young actress began to succumb to a case of burnout. The woman who at age 25 could already call herself a veteran screen actress told the press she wanted something real. So in June 1931, Clara Bow closed her home in Beverly Hills and left the lights of Los Angeles for an isolated ranch just seven miles outside of Searchlight, Nevada. Her husband-to-be, silent film actor Rex Bell, who bought the acreage, would eventually name it Walking Box Ranch. That’s what a movie camera on a tripod looks like. I n s e ar ch of si l en ce Rex and Clara Bell lived for nearly 15 years at this remote ranch — but they were hardly isolated. Frequent parties at the ranch went off like firework displays, with guests that read like a who’s-who roster of Hollywood elite — Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Errol Flynn reportedly threw back more than a few here. On the walls are photos of Hollywood stars crowded around the house’s small bar, laughing and drinking. After passing through many hands over the years — even doing a stint as an executive retreat — the 5,000 square-foot, two-story Spanish Colonial Revival ranch house is still in good shape. On the first floor, a grand living room features a dramatic stone fireplace that looks like it was
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Take US 95 south, taking the Searchlight exit after the Railroad Pass hotel-casino. When you reach Searchlight, take a right on Nipton Road, taking it about 7 miles to Walking Box Ranch. Trip time is about 1 hour.
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Above: Walking Box Ranch in its heyday. Right: The ranch today has been partially renovated and restored.
hewn out of a cliff; upstairs, Rex and Clara’s bedroom overlooks seemingly endless waves of pristine Joshua forest. It’s said Clara would sunbathe in the buff on its small balcony. “It’s isolated and peaceful, isn’t it?” says Paula Garrett of UNLV’s Public Lands Institute. “This is where Clara was going to get her life on track again.” A silent film star seeking solitude in the pristine desert — that intersection of celluloid history and wild Nevada has created a unique alignment of people interested not just in preserving this ranch, but perhaps turning it into an educational center. “This area is not all wilderness, not all history, it’s both nature and culture,” says Andy Kirk, a UNLV history professor who was instrumental in getting the ranch on the National Register of Historic Places, and is part of a project to preserve and enhance the ranch. “It’s one of those in-between places, a natural area with an overlay of culture.” So far , ye t s o c los e Indeed, there’s a lot more than just historic preservation going on here, and that creates an interesting dynamic at this ranch outside Searchlight where nature, culture and science are converging in some interesting ways. The Nature Conservancy oversees more
than 150,000 acres in the vicinity; it so happens the ranch is in the middle of some prime desert tortoise grounds. The Bureau of Land Management owns the ranch buildings, and UNLV’s Public Lands Institute manages them. The ranch was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, but that’s just the beginning of a larger project. In addition to the gradual restoration of the original ranch house — from wiring to water to an aesthetic makeover to make it look as though Rex and Clara still live here — the vision is to create in this area a sort of Swiss army knife that both educates and preserves. The specific goal is to use about $11.5 million from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act to complete a museum on the site by March 2014. Sure, the museum will tell visitors the story of Clara Bow’s great escape from Hollywood, but it will also serve as a physical and educational gateway to the fragile desert environment of the Mojave National Preserve — the birds, beasts and plants. Who’s going to show up? More people than you think. Garrett says the area is home to a happy paradox: It’s remote but convenient. “I live in Henderson, and this is closer to
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600 E. Warm Springs Road Las Vegas, NV (702) 263-0034
me than Mount Charleston,” she says. “It’s more than 100,000 acres to play in and hike, and mountain bike and explore. We’re hoping this will be a place to introduce people to the area, the launching point. The Mojave is one of the least-known American deserts. There’s still stuff even we don’t know about. There are petroglyphs and pictographs that haven’t even been documented yet.” “What’s neat about the place is it immediately looks like history,” adds Kirk. “There’s an old house, an old ranch. And it can be a great starter to the amazing environment of the Mojave — and also a starter on the cultural history of the area. A who’s-who of the American West passed through here.” Currently, Walking Box is only accepting scheduled private tours (call Garrett at 8951421), but they hope to have regular hours and docents in place next year. Whether visitors come for a brush with celluloid history or the hush of the desert, they’ll get a deep drink of the rich solitude that so eluded Clara during her Hollywood years — a silent film star who had to trek to the desert for some real silence.
Past presence: The Walking Box bar and dining room yesterday and today.
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Would you recycle more if it meant fewer trash pickups? Hear a discussion on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcompanion.com/hearmore
Get a chicken, grow some veggies, walk to work: These pragmatic Las Vegans show that it’s easy to start being green
By Megan Edwards Photography brent holmes
Las Vegas may be Spanish for “the meadows,” but “green” is not a word generally applied to the southern tip of Nevada — unless you’re talking about extremely controlled environments like Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden or a manicured golf course. But now that it denotes ecological responsibility instead of mere hue, “green” offers Las Vegas a fresh chance to claim it. Southern Nevada has solar energy to spare, for example, and conserving water has become the whole region’s pastime. Even so (and with apologies to Kermit), it’s not easy being green. It takes commitment in the desert. Even if you bother to replace your lawn with gravel, it’s still far too easy to go inside, crank up the air conditioning, nuke a frozen entree and ignore things like carbon footprints and climate change. Unfortunately, such behavior is often encouraged in Las Vegas. Many homeowners associations have strict rules against solar panels and outdoor clotheslines. Rare is the neighborhood that smiles upon backyard chickens. Recycling practices in most areas are decades behind other cities. In general, Las Vegans find sticking with fossil fuels, public utilities and trucked-in food considerably more attractive than turning green. Any change begins with small but significant steps — the buildings blocks of new ways. Sure, these five Southern Nevadans live admirably green lifestyles. But more importantly, their everyday practices are well within reach of you and me. Engine of change: Jon Hallquist Green claim to fame: Jon Hallquist can be spotted around town driving an aging blue Pontiac Fiero that attracts attention any time someone gets a glimpse under the hood or inside the trunk. All available space is filled with lead-acid batteries installed by members of the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association. As webmaster and vice president of the nonprofit club, Hallquist is a tireless promulgator of its mission: the
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Companion | April 2013
Electric avenue: Jon Hallquist and his battery-powered car
widespread adoption of electricity-powered cars, trucks, motorcycles and any other conveyance that would otherwise burn fossil fuels. Hallquist is also connected with Grassroots Electric Vehicles, a company that sells kits and offers support for converting gas-powered vehicles to electric. Clean, quiet, and oh-so-green: “We have to clean up the environment,” Hallquist says. While the easiest way to “go electric” is to buy a factory model like a Chevy Volt or a Nissan Leaf, it’s far from the cheapest. Although there’s a large range in cost depending on battery type and performance goals, a typical do-it-yourself conversion might cost about $5,000. This might seem like a hefty outlay, but the payback is swift. Hallquist estimates that driving an electric car costs almost half what it takes to run the same vehicle on gasoline. In addition, he stresses, you aren’t contributing to the epidemic of cancer and respiratory diseases associated with the emissions from internal combustion engines. Why does he do it? For Hallquist, this question is a no-brainer.
While it might be less convenient to drive an electric vehicle because of range limitations or the scarcity of recharging stations, the benefits are too important to ignore. “We have to keep from going over the tipping point,” he says, referring to the air pollution and effects on climate change caused by internal combustion. He sees the challenge as a tug-of-war between the interests of big oil companies and conventional car manufacturers and the obvious and dire need to protect the planet. How you can do it: If you’re interested in electric vehicles or in learning how to convert a conventional car to electric power, the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association offers a wealth of support, inspiration, camaraderie and know-how. The group’s website has lots of information as well as a calendar of meetings and events. Info: lveva.org Stalks and bonds: Marilyn Yamamoto Green claim to fame: Owner of Cowboy Trail Farm in the northwest corner of the valley, Yamamoto uses her 20-plus years of gardening experience to test and develop innovative and sustainable methods for growing crops in the desert. She’s the founder of Organic Edibles, a nonprofit formed to feed the hungry and teach people how to grow their own food and become more self-sufficient. Papayas in the desert: Yamamoto’s passion for experimentation has resulted in some startling successes. At Cowboy Trail Farm, bananas and papayas are in the ripening stage inside a hoop house equipped to simulate a tropical climate. In another, her first aquaponics crop is leafing out above ponds teeming with largemouth bass. In this symbiotic system, the fish waste feeds the plants — and the fish are themselves a crop. In addition to gardening classes, Yamamoto also teaches people about emergency preparedness and solar energy. Recently, a group of 50 gathered to learn how to bake cakes in ovens powered solely by reflected sunlight, and others have learned canning and preserving methods. “More and more people are becoming interested in being green,” Yamamoto says. To expand her activities and growing potential, she has recently acquired more farmland in Sandy Valley and partnered with a ranch near Pioche. Why does she do it? “I’m into eating healthy and being sustainable,” Yamamoto says. “Once you start — once you see things grow — you just can’t stop.” The beneficiaries of her dedication include not only the hundreds of people who gather at Cowboy Trail Farm to learn the secrets behind her green
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thumbs, but also the local charities that receive donations of fresh produce. How you can do it: Attend workshops at Cowboy Trail Farm, or buy produce from its farm stand at the Springs Preserve Farmers Market, or through the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Basket program. Or just get started growing, even if you have no yard. “That’s what containers were made for,” Yamamoto says. Info: organicedibles.org Here today, here tomorrow: Peter Frigeri Green claim to fame: The owner of Gaia, a flower and gift shop that specializes in sustainably grown flowers and work by local artists, Frigeri is also co-founder of Great Basin Permaculture, a nonprofit organization whose members share the simple but challenging goal of living in harmony with nature. The promise of permaculture: First coined in Australia back in the 1970s, permaculture is an ecological design system that draws inspiration from natural systems to develop efficient and sustainable models for agriculture, architecture and everyday life. Here in Las Vegas, permaculture offers a fresh way to assess and address all sorts of challenges from food supply to climate change. In addition to hosting monthly meetings, seminars and classes, Great Basin Permaculture is developing a demonstration garden. “We have a corner in the back of the Vegas Roots Community Garden,” Frigeri says. “We’re experimenting with indigenous plants and grading methods.” Instead of the more traditional raised beds, the group is trying out sunken planting zones. By lowering the plants, they are more likely to benefit from any moisture runoff, and they will also be protected from wind. It’s this type of thinking that is at the core of permaculture philosophy. Also at the heart of permaculture ethos is taking it home. In his own backyard, where Frigeri once envisioned a serene Zen garden with a winding path, he now houses a handful of chickens. Chickens are a great example of permaculture concepts at work. The owner provides them with shelter, food and water, and the chickens provide eggs, meat, manure, soil cultivation, weeding and pest control. Of course, they can also raise eyebrows among the neighbors. “Fortunately, they like the eggs,” Frigeri says, illustrating yet another permaculture tenet — sharing. Why does he do it? “Our mission is to educate and engage people in conversation as we
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Companion | April 2013
How her garden grows: organic guru Marilyn Yamamoto
A Mother’s Day Tradition
Heat miser: John Tsitouras in his energy-efficient home
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face the changes that are coming,” Frigeri says. “They’re happening now — climate change, population growth … ” He pauses. “I do it for my kids.” How you can do it: Attend a Great Basin Permaculture meeting and learn more about this holistic approach to living a greener life. Info: greatbasinpermaculture.org Cooler head prevails: John Tsitouras Green claim to fame: Drawing on his decades of experience in systems design as a physicist working on Department of Energy contracts, John Tsitouras designed and built a “super green” house. His total energy costs — winter and summer — are about $150 a month. His neighbor, who lives in a house of similar size, pays around $800. What lies beneath: Nestled in the Huntridge district on a large lot once owned by Howard Hughes, Tsitouras’s expansive Southwestern-style home is luxurious and inviting, with high, open-beam ceilings, spacious rooms, a finished basement, and an eight-car garage. What a superficial look can’t reveal is that the house sits on top of a buried “ground loop” — nearly 2,000 feet of polybutylene pipe. Connected to a heat pump, the ground loop system uses the heat of the surrounding earth during the summer months and the cold during the winter months to regulate temperatures inside the house. For further efficiency, Tsitouras used innovative insulating and building techniques and installed triple-paned windows. The result is an ideal indoor climate year-round. Tsitouras’s house is the result of a life-long
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COMPLIMENTARY ADMISSION interest in energy efficiency. “I’ve been green since 1952,” he says. As a college sophomore, he attended a lecture on solar energy techniques under development in Israel, and it wasn’t long before he was building his own solar collectors. Throughout his career as a physicist, Tsitouras designed, developed, and built solar power collectors for buildings throughout the southwest. Why did he do it? While low, low utility bills might be incentive enough for many people, Tsitouras’s interest in efficient systems is much deeper. It’s simply the right way to build a house — something far more people should be doing. “This is my dream house,” he says, “a house for all seasons. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be standing in 200 years.” How you can do it: If you’re building a house from scratch, Tsitouras says, consider a ground loop system. “It’s your best bet, and believe me, I’ve looked at all of them.” All of the materials are readily available, and any contractor can install them. If building a house isn’t among your plans, “at least look for a water heater equipped with a little heat pump,” Tsitouras suggests. “They cost more, but they pay for themselves pretty quickly.” Info on ground loop systems and heat pump water heater: energy.gov
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Little things, big change: Andrea Bensmiller Green claim to fame: While the spotlight usually shines on singer-songwriter Andrea Bensmiller to highlight her musical talents, she is also a charismatic example of the ecological difference one person can make. Calling herself a “home greenist,” Bensmiller makes daily — and even moment-to-moment — decisions to lead the most environmentally responsible life possible. She shares her green views and practices through her ever-expanding social media presence. “I’m not screaming from the corner with a megaphone,” she says. “I’m putting on a sweater before turning the heat up.” Unload the van — recycle the can: Bensmiller first joined the green movement as a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she organized her dorm’s first recycling program. “It became a part of who I am,” she says. “I don’t accept the ‘let’s wait until the crisis’ attitude.” Bensmiller’s day-to-day choices include practices as simple as unloading her music equipment after every gig if she needs to use her vehicle for an unrelated errand. Even if the distance isn’t great, the fuel saved by those 500 fewer pounds is worth the effort. “It’s really very simple,” she says. “Maybe not so much plastic. Turn off the lights. Use a rag instead of a paper towel.” She chose her apartment for a different set of perks: a good recycling program and the fact it’s within walking distance of work. (They’ve even got biodegradable pet cleanup bags!) She buys food in bulk when she can — and even makes her own hand and body lotion. Is it convenient? That shouldn’t be the deciding factor, Bensmiller says. Instead, ask “Does it make a difference?” Answering that question with action can change the world. Why does she do it? “We’re talking about the survival of the planet,” Bensmiller says. “I see my role as talking to people. I’m a voice, a teacher. It’s not that hard to live this way, and it’s important.” How you can do it: Make green choices every day, even if they are small ones. Walk instead of drive. Turn off appliances when they aren’t in use. Recycle. Buy in bulk. Avoid chemicals. Turn down the heat and use less air conditioning. Conserve water. Be an example. Spread the word. “It doesn’t have to be dramatic,” Bensmiller says. “Whatever you can do is worth it.” Info: Facebook.com/andrea.bensmiller
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Hear a lively discussion on the Las Vegas arts scene on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcompanion.com/hearmore
Raze the roof Iconic Vegas painter and muralist Robert Beckmann is back in town after many years away — with a fresh eye for a very changed city
h By Scott Dickensheets Photography Brent Holmes
“Have I told you about St. Thomas?” the artist Robert Beckmann asks. You mean the apostle? The Virgin Island? Not even close. “It was the town founded by the Mormons in 1856 that went underwater when Lake Mead was formed,” he says. Oh, right! In that case, no, you have not. Plucking his smartphone from the table at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza on Sahara, Beckmann finger-spins through the hundreds of photos he stores in it, stopping at an image of a painting in progress. The screen is small, its resolution inadequate for the viewing of fine art, but you can see a square of dark brown paint that’s clearly a building awaiting more detail, surrounded by skeletal tree limbs, a mottled sepia background. The waitress approaches through the clatter of a Friday late-lunch crowd. “Hello, Robert!” she says in what sounds like a light French accent; he must be a regular. He’s 71 and almost looks it, but there’s something boyishly reserved about him when he returns her smile. Not long returned after several years in Oregon, Beckmann is still re-triangulating his position in a city he lived in for upwards of three decades before he left. Back to his painting: “It was the hotel in St. Thomas,” he says. He got the image from an old photo taken before the floodwaters. Tapping an index finger on a patch of empty background, he says he might paint CityCenter’s doomed Harmon Tower there. You begin to get it right away: Two ruined hotels, potent symbols of hospitality rendered inhospitable by human neglect or folly, separated by decades but maybe united on canvas in a statement about vulnerability in a world of large, uncontrollable forces. Much of his work can be “read,” its conceptual content teased out, in this rather literary way. And since Beckmann assigns every aspect of his art as much symbolic weight as it will bear, a building is rarely just a building with him. The potential meanings multiply: Buildings stand in for our defenseless bodies, psyches, families, institutions, even society. (If you took the underwater-ness of St. Thomas as an economic metaphor, you’re right where Beckmann wants you.)
Paint the town: Beckmann in his studio
So, in answer to the question I asked when I sat down, that’s what he’s been up to lately: Trying to come up with fresh ways to capture and metaphorize the essence of a place he’s already painted — and, as a muralist, painted on — more prolifically, variously and deep-thinkingly than pretty much anyone else who comes to mind. You can see for yourself with House and Home, a exhibit of his old and new work that opens May 4 at Henderson’s VAST Space Projects gallery (vastspaceprojects.com), Beckmann’s first solo exhibit here in years. As
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the title suggests, the work is mostly united by a preoccupation with the rich artistic potential of structures and our places in them. “These things are all about being vulnerable in Las Vegas,” Beckmann says. “Whether it’s mortgages being underwater, or the fallout of nuclear testing. The other common denominator is the house, or home. Which is an extension of ourselves. It protects us. At the same time it’s vulnerable, to the economy, earthquakes or whatever.” But because it’s a mini-retrospective, the show also underscores how diverse his approaches have been over time. There’s the unblinking forensic gaze of The Body of a House, his monumental series based on government footage of a home being razed by an atomic blast at the Nevada Test Site (this show will feature outtakes from Body, as the final series resides in Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art). There’s the brainy pastiche of his Vegas Vanitas series, in which he inserted features of Las Vegas into landscapes inspired by Old
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Masters. There’s an unsettlingly lovely image of a nuclear explosion. If the exhibit also makes clear how much he’s drawn from Vegas subject matter, VAST gallerist Shannon McMackin says it would be a mistake to view the paintings in purely local terms. “His works require a much more thoughtful look to understand that they are loaded with concepts that extend well beyond the Vegas Valley,” she says. “This is what makes him such an important artist. He is inspired by a region that is loaded with conceptual metaphors and works with them, but on a much larger scale.” Consider a canvas like “86’d From Paradise,” from Vegas Vanitas, in which a tiny Adam and Eve are exiled from the Strip into a vast wilderness. It has a locals-only cleverness (Paradise Township as Paradise!), but it’s really a carefully considered inversion of the Eden story that poses searching questions about our founding myths: What is paradise? What are right and wrong? What is man’s relationship to nature?
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art After all, it’s Sin City, a place founded on temptation and congenial to serpents, that pulses warmly with life and sociability — a sense of home. And nature, far from being typically pastoral, is dark, impenetrable, terrifying. These are ideas are at play anywhere. “When we started talking about a show, I was really drawn to his earlier work in the Vanitas and Body of a House series,” Mc-
Mackin says. “It seemed timely with his return to town and to what was currently going on with our economy, to look back at these concepts in a new body of work.” Writing on the wall “I’ve lost track,” Beckmann says as we loiter behind the Dula Senior Center, an ancient civic building on Bonanza. I’ve just asked him how many murals he completed during
his years here. He guesses: “Somewhere over 250,” an astonishing number, though some are probably better classified as “painting projects” than murals — wayfinding color stripes in high schools and the like. But many have been large public or commercial commissions: at McCarran International Airport; in such resorts as Bellagio, Mirage and the Rio; in banks and on government buildings. Indeed, it’s an irony of Beckmann’s career — though not a bitter one, he says, perhaps convincingly — that he’s probably better known in town as a muralist than as a studio artist, a situation we’ve come to Dula to contemplate. Somewhat absurdly, we’ve bulled through two fire exits and one uncomprehending clerk to access this rear lot so we could look at … the grimy, dreary, utterly empty back wall. Years ago, one of his earliest murals undulated up and down this dull expanse. He put it up with the aid of high-school students in, what, 1977? He pulls the whole thing up from memory: “It was 30 colors — 10 rainbow colors, plus 10 lighter variations and 10 darker ones,” he says. “When we were doing it, the people going by were honking their horns and going, ‘Yeah!’” Repeat a couple hundred times and you have the makings of a remarkable visual legacy. Except some don’t last, of course. The Dula piece has been gone longer than it existed. Plenty of his murals exist only in photos and his memory. He says that doesn’t bother him; it comes with mural work. It’s not meant to last forever. Still, it’s tempting to use Beckmann’s own tendency toward metaphor — in this case, artwork erased from public view — to pose a few searching questions: Does it irk him that Beckmann the muralist has in some ways overshadowed Beckmann the fine artist? Did he get
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his due from the Vegas arts community? After all, it took an institution in Reno, not here, to recognize the stature of The Body of a House, and Vegas Vanitas has yet to be similarly acquired. Did any of that contribute to his departure for Oregon in 2005? An artist’s stature is a tricky thing to measure, of course. “For all the people he butted heads with, and there were many, a lot of people still respect him,” says artist Fried Sigman, a longtime friend of Beckmann’s who now lives in Florida. “As much as Las Vegas recognizes its artists, he’s gotten it.” Among other things, he’s received several grants and awards from the state, and plenty of column inches in the local media over the years. As to proper acknowledgment, “If you ask him, he might say no,” Sigman says affectionately. But Beckmann regularly mentions Tibetan Buddhism in relation to the creative process, and talks openly — to me, for this story, but also in earnest emails to the circle of mostly younger artists he’s taken up with since he came back — about art’s capacity to heal, both personally and socially. (This put him at odds with the prevailing mood of the Dave Hickey years, when the influential art critic, then headquartered in Vegas, championed an aesthetic of visual pleasure and had little fondness for art that attempted meaning or, especially, healing.) So, as we wander behind Dula in the latemorning sun, trying to get out to the front — turns out fire exits don’t open inward — he won’t cop to much bitterness. The mural work? It paid the bills while keeping him out of academe and in the real world of casinos, schools, student helpers and municipal projects. That kind of reality-engagement matters to “an old leftist” who, as a young man, hosted informal art classes for poor kids in his Chicago neighborhood. “It was always an absolute joy,” he says of mural work, “because it was real. Real stuff.” And he says he left Vegas not because he couldn’t find a home in the arts scene — although he never made real inroads with, say, the university crowd — but because the mural work was drying up and because he was newly married and she wanted to go north. Well, okay, there’s this: “I think there are people out there who have condescended to me because I don’t have a style or whatever,” he allows, softly. “But I think that I’ve come up with a lot of original stuff over the years.”
a spare room of the house he rents in a distant precinct of Anthem, a neighborhood he lightly mocks as full of old people. In the suburban fashion, his house looks like all the others, but inside, his is surely the most singular home on the street. Art is everywhere — in progress on the living-room walls, set out for quiet rumination in a spare bedroom, stored in the kitchen, the master bedroom, the closets. (It’s my journalistic failing that I didn’t
check the bathroom.) This is where the studio head does its thing. Beckmann isn’t immune to the vulnerabilities he depicts; he returned from Oregon last year because his marriage collapsed and he needed a place to live and a new mindspace to paint from. Vegas seems to have helped. We’re looking at “The Vegas Graces,” a dark blue depiction of Flamingo and the Strip, minus the neon glare. The three graces are arrayed across its midsec-
The watchman and the spy “There are two different heads I have,” Beckmann says. “One is my mural head and one is the studio head.” He’s sitting in
DesertCompanion.com | 37
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tion: a construction crane, the Statue of Liberty from New York-New York, a ghostly, translucent Blue Angel. Growth. Freedom. Risk. It began as a straightforward depiction of the Strip at night. “But as the paint began to drizzle down on the surface here, it took on this emotional tone, which became something else. There was sort of a sadness that happened; an elegiac quality, if you will. When that happened, somehow, the Blue Angel somehow played into this — the spirit that hung over Vegas as a protective angel, maybe — but is she really there?” He’s serious about that two-minds business; he’s got a thing for the creative potential of opposed dualities. He mentions them all the time: Chaos vs. order. Right brain vs. left. Thinking vs. feeling. (He quotes Horace Walpole: For the person who thinks, the world is a comedy; for the person who feels, the world is a tragedy.) One of his favorite dualities comes from painter Jasper Johns, who suggested there are two kinds of artists: the watchman, who essentially keeps tabs on a factory that turns out items in his recognizable, market-friendly style; Warhol, for instance. Then there’s the spy, “where you’re part of the culture, but at the same time standing outside the culture, observing it, commenting on it.” That’s how he sees himself, for better (artistically) and worse (financially). He settles into a chair in his art-stuffed living room, and smiles. “I’m not interested in making product.” House and Home: The work of Robert Beckmann May 4-June 8 at VAST Space Projects gallery, 730 W. Sunset Road, vastspaceprojects.com. Reception 6-8 p.m. May 4
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‘This is my last big hurrah’
Former grand dame of gaming Elaine Wynn sets her sights on a new venture: fixing the state’s education system
By Steve Friess Photography jerry metellus
For those accustomed to seeing Elaine Wynn in glamorous Vogue photo spreads or as the elegant, one-time grand dame of the Bellagio or Wynn resorts, it may be a little discombobulating to discover she’s actually a hardcore policy wonk. Yet it came as little surprise to anyone in the education world when she accepted Gov. Brian Sandoval’s appointment to the Nevada State Board of Education — and then promptly took its reins as its chairwoman in January. Wynn has, after all, been the national co-chair of the nation’s largest dropout prevention program, Communities In Schools, since 2007 and was chair of the UNLV Foundation during the school’s turbulent early 1990s. Indeed, the 71-year-old could have enjoyed her vast wealth — she emerged from her 46-year marriage with Steve Wynn worth more than $1 billion — and such honors as serving as a Kennedy Center trustee and as board member of both the National Basketball Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress Trust Fund. Instead, she’s helming meetings on how to fix the state’s public
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Back to school: Elaine Wynn wants to help tackle the state’s education woes.
schools system. It’s a dirty job, but Wynn believes she’s got to do it. Here’s why. Steve Friess: The most obvious question is: Why would you want to get involved with the politics of Nevada schools at this stage of your life? It sounds like an incredibly thankless opportunity.
Elaine Wynn: Oh, my goodness. You don’t really know me! SF: I do so! EW: (Laughs) I am an idealistic optimist. If I give up, why would anybody following me have any hope? When I got involved in the last assignment with (Gov. Jim Gibbons’) Blue Ribbon Commission to see if we could get any of the Race to the Top money, I got a close-up look at the state of education in Nevada. And, if we were not successful getting federal money, at least we could create a legislative blueprint. Lo and behold, the 2011 Legislature made changes, and in particular, they changed the governance. Did they do it completely the way I had wanted? No, but they did some key things. SF: Did you tell the governor you wanted to be on that board? EW: Not at all. Listen, I was going off into the sunset with (Communities in Schools). SF: Not quite. EW: No, not quite. The new state superintendent, Jim Guthrie, and Dwight Jones, the new CCSD superintendent, met behind my back and a buzz was created. I was really taken by surprise. But I decided there was a falling into place of leadership that was all geared in the same direction, which was, “We’ve got to do something here. This is not acceptable. It’s a mess.” SF: But this board doesn’t decide on funding, the Legislature does. Is funding a problem for Nevada schools? EW: Funding is an issue across the country, with one or two exceptions. It’s a national dilemma. But Nevada has more taxing capacity — we all know that. Before the recession, everybody pointed to gaming, and we said, “Look, we’re willing to participate in some additional new taxes, but there needs to be a broad-based business tax here that is equitable and fair, just like it exists in other states where Neiman’s and Macy’s and everybody else gets taxed. They’re exempt here.” SF: Have you talked to Gov. Sandoval about the tax structure? EW: No, I will not talk to him about the tax structure. That is not my job as the president of the state board. I’m not supposed to be the one to identify the source of the funding; I’m supposed to be the one, if I think it’s correct, who points out we need more.
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SF: Does gaming pay enough? EW: The gaming industry is struggling. Can the Nevada gaming industry afford more gaming taxes? No.
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SF: No? EW: Nobody is doing really well, including us, in Nevada. This is my gaming hat on now. We were the proponents of the room tax. Some say the gamers didn’t really give anything up, that we passed it on to the tourists. Well, that’s not fair. We’re still out in the competitive world, marketing our properties against hotels in other convention cities. The costs are still higher for people to come to Las Vegas because of the room tax we advocated. Then that money was diverted a bit from its original intent, which didn’t make us very happy. SF: What non-financial ideas do you have for reform? EW: We’ve got tremendous redundancies here. A lot of stuff was created with separate staffing and funding when most of this should be brought in under the state department to be managed and controlled by state staff. And everybody has a plan. The governor comes up with his plan, the Assembly comes up with its plan, the state board comes up with its plan. What the hell is it with all these plans? Let’s have a unified Nevada plan that everybody can present and testify about to the Legislature. SF: Let’s zoom out. Look at Nevada’s situation, the dropout rate, graduation rate and test scores. What’s the big problem? EW: Okay, I’ll tell you: It’s poverty. In Reno, half the kids qualify for free or reduced lunch, maybe more. In Clark County, it soon might be one in three. Nevada ranks at the very top of having that worst scenario, whether it’s mental health, health care, substance abuse, homelessness. All of the kinds of things that work to disadvantage families — hence, children — and prevent kids from an equal shot at success. We’re the poster child for that terrible condition. SF: But this state was very prosperous for quite a while. Why is there such an unequal distribution of wealth here? EW: Our minorities are becoming our majorities, and we are doing the poorest job of educating them. The number of kids who come here who don’t speak English is enormous and continues to be a challenge. And meanwhile, we do a lousy job of making teaching a desirable profession. Nevada teachers are ranked
18th in salaries, so that’s not quite so bad. But teachers complain about working conditions. The reason the working conditions are bad is because they have so many children who are living in poverty. The teachers are not free just to teach, they must be social workers and health care providers, they deal with horrendous social challenges. SF: Can a state board do much about that? EW: Well, there are a lot of well-meaning groups that overlap and we can help organize that. You’ve got the Junior League, Communities in Schools, the Boys & Girls Club. There’s no mechanism to coordinate them and deliver the services. I was just in New York where a friend, George Weiss, updated us on his Say Yes To Education program. His theory was that the community must guarantee kids who graduate college a job. He’s created what I call my new big idea: Civic infrastructure.
other things have to be in place in addition and besides that. Several other cities have worked in concert with unions to come up with things considered to be fair and equitable. We’re going to be doing that, as well; the teachers are not going to have any consequences for the first two years that our evaluation piece and testing piece are in place. We’re going to make sure that the thing is there and it’s appropriate, but, of course, we have to have the right
data systems in place, as well, to track it all. The unions will do what they normally do; they’re going to try to get higher wages, and everybody understands that. But, if they try to get too abrasive on accountability, they’d better be careful. That’s dangerous. SF: As a Wynn Resorts board member, where is the Vegas economy right now? EW: Our visitation is strong and everybody is
SF: Civic infrastructure? EW: Yes. George has gone to Syracuse and Buffalo, and they have the county, the mayor, the higher education system, the businesses and foundations get together to say: “We’re going to make promises to our kids where, if they stay in school, we will fund their education post-secondary. If they pass credentialing tests, they will have jobs and a future.” They started out with, like, 650 kids. I think they’re at 59,000 kids! It really is quite something. It’s just opened up my eyes beyond what I thought I understood. SF: But if I’m an eighth grader, I’m not thinking that far ahead to college. EW: Yes you are. Yes. They do. They proved they do. It’s happening. SF: At this stage, do you feel more hopeful about the Legislature listening to you? EW: I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think we had some shot at some kind of momentum. This my last hurrah. SF: The quagmire is always that the Republicans object to taxes for more resources and the Democrats get off the bus when it’s about teacher accountability, which unions often oppose. Let’s talk about the second part of the equation. The new common core standards will have some means of assessing teachers, I take it? EW: The unions may be aggressive in objecting to accountability measures, but a lot of the newer teachers say, “Go ahead and judge us.” But, to hear the unions talk about it, 18 million
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“ I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think we had some shot encouraged that people are returning. We’ve got a healthy convention and sales business. at some kind of momentum.” But, people are more conservative in their spending. We’re also seeing younger audiences that are coming more for the nightclub scene than for gambling. We still have some strong international play, but that’s mostly manifested at the high-end parts of the properties that cater to them. I think we’re going to have to work hard; I don’t think it’s a slam dunk. I think we’re flat. SF: Is the nightclub boom a shortcut to profit? EW: I’d say it is filling in the deficiencies left by the contraction of other things. They’re spending less on food, for instance. The old gourmet rooms are a thing of the past with one or two exceptions. And even the great gourmet chefs are doing these new modern kinds of plating options to appeal to a younger audience. I don’t know if they’re going to go to too many shows anymore. The younger ones just
wanted to go clubbin’, and that makes up for a chunk of lost revenue elsewhere. SF: Does it make you nostalgic? EW: I’m a rare breed. I was here in the ’60s; I came when the Rat Pack was here. So, I have a sentimental view about Old Las Vegas. But, I can’t really complain, because we built New Las Vegas. You have to change with the times. The nightclub scene is the new stuff. With social media and instant friending, nightclubs become the opposite of the virtual world. It’s still a place where you get to meet people in person, and be with them side-by-side, as opposed to being on a screen. SF: Wow, so you’ve evolved to thinking nightclubs are the savior for actual contact. EW: Yeah, I think it is a direct reaction to
human need for actual, physical interaction. Once you’ve Facebooked and Twittered and tweeted, the whole point is to lead to a meeting, and the nightclubs provide the meetings. SF: There was a lot of attention paid to Las Vegas in 2012 because Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson gave huge amounts of money to Republicans. What was your impression of the attention Las Vegas got over all of that? EW: We live in a free society where people lawfully are entitled to use their funds to support the candidates and causes that they care to support. Ultimately, the only ones who can judge if that’s a good exercise or not are the people who do it. Now, I don’t think their return on investment was very good! (Laughs.) If it had been a company, people would’ve said,
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“Oops, that was a bad investment.” SF: What fills your time now that you’re less involved with the company? EW: Mostly it’s my philanthropic and civic involvement. I spend a portion of my day scheduling so, for instance, if I have a Kennedy Center meeting, I determine where the next things are and what I can piggyback on top of those geographical locations to take care of other responsibilities. So, for instance, I always go to the Duke-North Carolina (basketball) game. Before I do that, I go to Charlotte because our former Reno superintendent is now the superintendent there. And North Carolina has the second-biggest Communities in Schools program, so I’ll go there and check in with our staff and some of their funders, and do a little fundraising event. After that, I go to Houston for the NBA All-Star Game because I’m on the Basketball Hall of Fame board.
TV, read or be on my computer. So, I tried to maintain some normalcy there. But, to be able to have the staff of the Wynn Hotel work with you and take great care of you, and become your extended family? It was lovely. SF: One last question I ask you every time we speak: Have you signed Warren Buffett’s pledge to give away most of your fortune before you die?
EW: I haven’t signed the pledge yet because I still am not technically in a position to do it (due to litigation over changing the terms of Elaine’s control over her shares of the company). I am emotionally committed to it. And whether I do Warren’s pledge or not, it is my intention. SF: To give away half of your money, or a lot of it? EW: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
SF: Should Las Vegas have its own professional team? EW: Selfishly speaking, it would be great. But the biggest issue is: Is there a local population that could support it, and is there a price range that can be supported? I’m not sure. Also, the question of the arena, which you know is an ongoing issue in Las Vegas. SF: Do you, like Mayor Goodman, believe getting a major sports team is a sign of the city’s maturity? EW: Oh, gosh. I think it’s a wonderful coalescing thing to have; it’s a great amenity for a city to boast about. But, there are plenty of cities in America that are mature that don’t have teams. SF: One kind of personal question. You lived a few years at the Wynn hotel. You don’t anymore; you have an apartment somewhere else? EW: Yes. SF: What was it like to live inside one of those places? EW: It’s mixed, as you might imagine. It certainly is luxurious to have room service if you want it. But it is like living over the candy store; sometimes, it’s hard to turn off emotionally when you’re on the premises. I had a lot of discipline, so it was okay for me. I could get up and I could put on my sweats, and go out and walk the golf course for exercise and go to my office and still maintain some kind of normal routine. And, very often at night, I would come up to the apartment and not be entertaining and going out for dinner. I would watch
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Learn how the neon sign Is Las came Vegas to getting embodyfatter? the Las Hear Vegas experts design weigh aesthetic in on on“KNPR’s “KNPR’sState Stateof ofNevada” Nevada”at atwww.desertcompanion/hearmore desertcompanion.com/hearmore
This is going to be huge
Logan Hendrickson started off building chairs for dolls. Now his sleek but rugged designer furniture (for actual humans) is creating a big buzz By Maureen Adamo | Photography bill hughes
Roxy and Logan Hendrickson bought half a house — a log cabin, actually, on the outskirts of Henderson. It was a steal, priced at roughly the value of the acre it sat on, because it was a mere shell of a home. There were barely even walls. So the two, married last July, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They laid up bricks, installed wide-beam wood flooring, designed a kitchen and bathrooms, inch by inch building the house with sweat equity and an aesthetic that might be called raw, homey industrial minimalism. Their work on the house led to them blogging about the process to help instruct other home-improvers (DIY concrete walls, anyone?). And because the house (featured on page 58) was built from nothing, Roxy and Logan decided their furniture would be as well. Soon, friends began asking Logan to make pieces for their own homes. Encouraged by the budding enthusiasm for a craft born of thrift, the couple decided to try to sell a few of the things they were making on Etsy.com. Onefortythree (onefortythree.com), named for their home address, was born, and the couple moved their online storefront from Etsy onto designer startup mecca Big Cartel. T h i n k small At least, that’s one way of telling the story of Onefortythree. The big secret to their success is literally a small one: The HendrickSeat of power: Logan son’s furniture business really kicked into high Hendrickson designs and gear with dollhouse furniture. builds modern furniture. Here, he welds a chair “I got a lot of calls in from the dollhouse frame in his workshop. scene,” Logan Hendrickson says. (The most surprising part of his admission is that there is, in fact, a “dollhouse scene.”) Having been invited to participate in a blog-sponsored dollhouse design competition, Logan did what pretty much, well, no one else would have. He built a geodesic dome dollhouse, complete with a working electric chandelier and uber-mod, real (and tiny) molded plywood and steel furniture. The dollhouse was rich with textile detail. Logan “installed” wood laminate and built a platform bed fitted with cotton sheets. The work won him a feature in American Miniaturist magazine; building awe-
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some dollhouse furniture is that big a deal. When the competition was over, people who had been following called to buy bits of the minuscule modernism he had constructed. It was then Logan decided to scale up. If he could make molded, Eames-inspired plywood chairs for dolls, he thought, he could make chairs for people, too. “It was tricky, because there’s not a lot of information on how to do
Shedding some light: From lamps to tables to cabinets, Onefortythree is generating big buzz.
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it,” Logan says. He first consulted his dad, a local cabinet-maker of 40 years, but came up empty. Even his dad had no idea how it was done. So Logan had to teach himself how to construct the molds and glue the veneered plywood up in layers in its iconic striation — almost as if it hadn’t already been done 60 years ago by the legendary design duo Charles and Ray Eames. Hendrickson has clearly mastered the art of plywood; he’s since branched out into everything from sleek magazine racks to clean, handsome wall storage cabinets. Not to mention his other creations, from his polygonal planters made from recycled wood to swinging wall lamps. E v e rything Ea mes It’s tempting to classify Logan and his wife Roxy as modern invocations of everything Eames: their curiosity and inventiveness, their work ethic, their collaboration in creating need-fulfilling, affordable design — not to mention their aesthetic. Much the way his predecessors prized the integrity of function, Logan chooses to leave raw and exposed what other furniture-makers might work to hide — such as the lock miter joints that connect a table’s planes without the use of nails, and the careful alignment of wood grain to allow the natural surface to shine instead of embellishing it with veneer. In the end, what makes the piece strong is
ultimately what makes it beautiful. Each success modestly built upon the last, Logan and Roxy seem to embody a vision of work that’s both old-fashioned and new, artisanal and technologically attuned. For instance, these small-scale producers use social media as real-time market research. Logan posts works in progress to Instagram in what amounts to a form of risk-free market testing, where he gathers feedback from the public before going into production. Their interaction with an audience of design-lovers makes Onefortythree seem most like a playful collaboration that’s achieving critical mass. Requests from customers lead to adaptations and variations on themes: a switch added to a swinging lamp base here, lengths shortened there. And it works. If you browse their social media feed, the love for Onefortythree keeps growing. Logan will stumble across his products in the pages of San Francisco magazine, while he’s also snagging mentions on big-name blogs such as Design Sponge and Martha Stewart. Not bad for a homegrown business that’s now receiving requests from all over the world. But that’s really not surprising when, after all is said and done, you could get your mitts on a made-to-order handmade Eameslike upholstered “Roxy” rocker (named after Roxy, of course) for less than $600. At least, before Onefortythree becomes the next biggest thing to come out of Las Vegas.
For more information: visit www.lvyo.org or call 702-385-2838. Email: email@example.com
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702-589-7557 LasVegasIRSHelp.com DesertCompanion.com | 47
News Reviews Interviews f o u r way s O n t h e P l at e
Eat this street!
On the plate
Upcoming dining events
Morning glory: The blood orange mimosa at Crepe Expectations
PHOTOGRAPH BY Christopher Smith
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w Raise your fork to Eastern Avenue, an underrated street of incredible eats By Brock Radke Photography chrisTopher smith
Where most great cities have pockets of restaurants, neighborhoods for noshing, dining districts, the Vegas valley is, as always, a little different. I like to think we like to go big. A single one of our mega-casinos might have more delicious dining options than a puny city intersection could ever contain. Here, we eat streets. Show me a four-mile stretch of desert roadway and I’ll give you a delicious bounty ready for investigation. Las Vegas Boulevard from Sahara to Russell — aka the Strip — is not only the best spot we’ve got, it’s likely the greatest restaurant street in the world. Number two must be Spring Mountain Road from the Strip to Rainbow — aka Chinatown — a wildly diverse Asian flavor explosion. For your consideration, I offer Eastern Avenue as our third great thoroughfare. (Eatery Avenue? The Nom Belt? Eh. You’ll have to think up your own nickname for it.) Stretching southeast from the Beltway to Anthem, it’s an ongoing expedition of pizza, sushi, diners and cafés, and something new is always popping up. Of course, this is suburban Henderson, so the landscape is crowded with fast food and franchise restaurants. Don’t be overwhelmed. Strike through the static of sprawling strip malls with this handy situational dining guide. Let the Eastern exploration begin.
Wakey, wakey … You know you’re starting your day right when your menu asks if you’d like to add
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Flat-out good: Crepe Expectations’ Berry Delight
jalapeño bacon to your breakfast. Wake up with the lively deli cuisine at 1 Original Sunrise Cafe (8975 S. Eastern Ave. #5, 257-8877, eatatsunrise.com), a comfy and classic diner. Just a couple doors down, hip and healthy 2 Greens and Proteins (8975 S. Eastern Ave 541-7800, greensandproteins.com) has become everyone’s favorite guiltless meal. Try the roasted Anaheim chili-laden tofu and chorizo breakfast burrito, or addictive snacks like tofu fries — way better than they sound — and
Thai peanut chicken satay. 3 The Griddle (9480 S. Eastern Ave., 3603636, thegriddlelasvegas.com) keeps it simple and satisfying, specializing in fluffy buttermilk pancakes and variations on Eggs Benedict. You can find a different kind of pancake in that same bustling Sansone Richmar Plaza — where it seems like restaurants are opening and closing every week — at 4 Crepe Expectations (9500 S. Eastern Ave. #150, 583-4939, crepeexpectations.com). Sweet and/or savory
Desert Companion - round 1
Ave Federation of flavor: Republic Kitchen & Bar
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options abound, with a nice selection of coffee and champagne (you’re not supposed to mix those together). Way out by Anthem, of course, resides the neighborhood brunch favorite, 5 Bread & Butter (10940 S. Eastern Ave., 675-3300, breadandbutterlv.com). The best waffles, sandwiches, and waffle sandwiches you can find await at B&B, not to mention its alluring pastry case and root beer bar.
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Our ’burbs are notorious for lacking cozy night spots, not the case along the Eastern. There’s warm and reliable 6 Italian at Gaetano’s (10271 S. Eastern Ave. #111, 3611661) and thrilling Thai at 7 Pin Kaow (9530 S. Eastern Ave., 407-1188, pinkaowthai.com), both charming dining rooms that invite you to linger with a glass of wine. For a little more energy, 8 Republic Kitchen & Bar (9470 S. Eastern Ave., 463-3500, republickitchenandbar.com) and tapas institution 9 Firefly (11261 S. Eastern Ave., 778-1400, fireflylv. com) package fun food and drink with exciting environments that will have you planning your next visit before you’re done. 10 Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina (10740 S. Eastern Ave. #155, 454-0104, bratalian. com), with its multi-layered menu of authentic Italian cuisine, is well on its way to becoming a true neighborhood favorite, kinda like 11 I Love Sushi (11041 S. Eastern Ave. #117, 990-4055). Amazingly, locals are still driving across town to meet friends and share tuna tataki and Jerry rolls at this joint. If it ain’t broke, keep ordering the tempura.
New arrivals The best barbecue in Vegas is back, only this time it’s a restaurant, not a food truck. Venture inside Doc Holliday’s at Eastern and Serene for a taste of 12 Top Notch
Photo by Virginia Trudeau
Sat, May 11 & Sun, May 12, 2013 The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Artistic Director James Canfield has an unseen talent for transforming text into dance. Now, for an unforgettable season finale, he will bring one of the Bard’s most beloved tales to life just in time for Mother’s Day weekend.
Tickets: (702) 749-2000 or visit NevadaBallet.org DesertCompanion.com | 51
Barbeque (9310 S. Eastern Ave., 883-1555, topnotchbarbeque.com) and take a slab of ribs home. Also packing outsized flavors is the friendly new sandwich shop 13 Beach Hut Deli (9500 S. Eastern Ave. #180, 749-9200, beachhutdeli.com), where immense stacks of ham, turkey, roast beef, pastrami and crisp veggies might somehow fit on a single roll. Fantastic Asian restaurants have been migrating from Spring Mountain Road to Eastern Avenue in recent years, from pho shops to banh mi dens. Will this tasty street become Chinatown East? The ’hood has two more interesting additions with the traditional 14 East Ocean Dim Sum (9570 S. Eastern Ave., 567-4800) and the Cajun-style seafood cafeteria California Crab (9560 S. Eastern Ave., 868-9154).
Cheap eats Question: What’s more important than tacos? Answer: Nada. 15 Fausto’s Mexican Grill (2654 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 617-2246) has been the go-to around here for years. Now there are two 16 Super Burrito locations (8899 S. Eastern Ave. and 10110 S. Eastern Ave., 3648226) along the main drag, packing high quality fillings into your choice of tortilla foundation. For something different, check out 17 Inka Grill (9400 S. Eastern Ave., 614-8818), a rare Peruvian restaurant. Ten bucks gets you large portions of hearty grub and a truly unique culinary experience. Okay, it’s beef time. 18 Windy City (9711 S. Eastern Ave., 388-4300, windycitybeefsndogs.com) is serving up Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches, dipped in salty au jus and speckled with spicy vegetable giardiniara, plus Vienna Beef hot dogs and even pizza. And challenging that In-N-Out near the Beltway for Eastern Avenue burger supremacy are those 19 Five Guys (10271 S. Eastern Ave. #101, 405-9555, fiveguys.com) and their thick, juicy patties with unlimited toppings. A few dollars goes a long way around here.
“My relationship with Bank of Nevada allows me to serve the needs of our community’s seniors like never before.” - Chris Vito, President & CEO Nevada Adult Day Healthcare Centers
To read their story, visit bankofnevada.com/NADHC
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Bank of Nevada is an affiliate of Western Alliance Bancorporation
After more than 50 years in business, 20 Freed’s Bakery (9815 S. Eastern Ave., 456-7762, freedsbakery.com) is more than just the place to get your holiday gingerbread house or recommend a wedding cake. It’s part of the community. But it’s not the only bakery on Eastern; there’s also the new 21 German Bread Bakery (9255 S. Eastern Ave., 649-8771, germanbreadbakerylasvegas. com), with its killer apple danish, and a sweet
M ay w e r e c o m m e n d …
little outpost of 22 The Cupcakery (9680 S. Eastern Ave. #100, 207-2253, thecupcakery. com). For more specialized desserts, check out 23 Popped (9480 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 998-9234, poppedcornshop.com), where innovative gourmet popcorn flavors run the gamut from dill pickle to hatch chile, or 24 Sweet Ruby Jane Confections (8975 S. Eastern Ave. #3B, 648-1000, sweetrubyjane. com), where old-fashioned candies, brittles and fudge fill out the colorful display case. Go ahead, splurge. You deserve it, your reward for eating all of Eastern.
Ribs at Top Notch Barbeque. Simply put, they’re the best spareribs in the valley, if not the best barbecue this desert has ever seen. Chef and owner Jimmy Cole won’t reveal all the ingredients of his cowboy spice rub, but it’s got enough peppery kick to saturate these succulent, smoky pork bones and render barbecue sauce completely useless.
NEVADA university of nevada press
The Monkey at Crepe Expectations.
As it turns out, bananas and Nutella were made for each other, and the folks at Crepe Expectations support their love. The warm, slightly chewy and slightly crisp crepe is the perfect vessel for this creamysweet romance, and a little chocolate drizzle, fresh whipped cream and powdered sugar never hurt anyone, either.
Cold Deck a novel
Bacon Cheeseburger All the Way at Five Guys. It may be the messiest, happiest burg-
er you’ll ever eat, dripping with ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions and sautéed mushrooms. No bun can handle these ingredients, let alone the beefy-melty cheese-bacon sensation they’re stacked upon. Just don’t get caught using French fries as napkins. BR
Sugar and spice: Sweet Ruby Jane Confections, left, and Top Notch Barbeque, below
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new in paperback
Minimal Damage stories of veterans
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Everyday Las Vegas
local life in a tourist town
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DesertCompanion.com | 53
ON THE PLATE
April’s dining events you don’t want to miss
F o u r way s : T h e f o o d o f t h e m o m e n t, o n e d i s h at a t i m e
Cauliflower By Molly Michelman | Photograph Sabin Orr
gas.com). Bacon lardoons (can anyone say “lardoons” with a straight face?) add necessary richness to the conventional presentation of the vegetable. 2. The Renegade Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan incorporates cauliflower into two menu items: the Salpicon De Cangerjo, mingled in with jumbo lump crab meat, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and brandy sauce. The cauliflower is more prominent and particularly tasty sautéed with savory and sweet olives and dates in the Coliflor con Olivas y Fruitos Secos. 3. DIY Fellow foodies will no doubt have heard about cauliflower “steak.” Clean a head of cauliflower, cut off the stalk and leaves. Cut cross-sections of the head into half-inch slices (all of the florets should stay attached), creating 4 “steaks.” Sprinkle with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, spreading oil on both sides. Grill on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes per side until tender and serve.
Mark Twain wrote, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” For years, cauliflower was just the culprit in disappointing kitchen aromas. Typically served raw or overcooked, in florets or pureed, this mild-mannered vegetable eventually began creating buzz by masquerading as mashed potatoes — or even hiding in cake batter. And now, the brainy stepsister of broccoli has secured its spot as a low-carb superstar. This cruciferous cancer-fighter contains about 25 calories a cup, is a source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and has fiber to boot. In 2013, the new “it girl” is making her way onto the center of the plate in some of the trendiest eateries in town. 1. The Classic Old-school roasted and pureed cauliflower pair up with the Seared Diver Scallops at Embers in Boca Park (740 S. Rampart Blvd. #7, 778-2160, emberslasve-
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4. But can I drink it? I challenged the mixologists over at Charlie Palmer Steak in the Four Seasons to use cauliflower in an adult beverage. I assumed they’d come up with pureed cauliflower with a paper umbrella and call it a day. Wrong. The result? “Hot Pepper Vodka with Spicy, Marinated Cauliflower and Bleu Cheese Olives.” They even shared the recipe: Pour a bottle of vodka into a jar. Wearing gloves, slice and remove seeds from five jalapenos, five chilies (Serrano or Thai) and five habañeros. Add to vodka and infuse for 5 days. Purchase a jar of hot cherry peppers. Replace some of the peppers with same-sized cauliflower florets. Add 2 each of jalapeno, chili, & habañero. Marinate for 5 days in the fridge. Strain chilled vodka over ice into a glass. Skewer a large cauliflower floret between two bleu cheese olives and serve. Take a sip — you’ll truly taste the flavors of each pepper beyond the simple heat. The infusing turns the more subtle cauliflower into a real beast. Your mild-mannered vegetable is now cabbage with a kick.
Dishcrawl April 10. This monthly foodie crawl takes diners on a literal taste of the town, sampling signature dishes at four different local restaurants — while also rubbing elbows with fellow fans of fine cuisine. For added surprise, the restaurants of the night are kept secret two days before the event. 7 p.m. April 10. Tickets $45. Info: dishcrawl.com/lasvegas.
Vino Thursdays april 18. At this monthly wine-tasting, guests sip reds and whites from around the world and sample small plates, while a special musical guest caps off the night with a set, while overlooking the iconic Bellagio fountains. 7-9 p.m. at the Hyde Bellagio, hydebellagio.com.
Uncork’d May 9-12. Now in its seventh year, Uncork’d offers celeb chefs, master sommeliers and avant-garde mixologists for four days of tasting and tippling. Among the events are a master series dinners with famed chefs, cooking demonstrations and the Grand Tasting. vegasuncorked.com
“Free Cone Day” at Ben & Jerry’s April 9. Ben & Jerry’s celebrates its 35th annual “Free Cone Day,” with Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops at the District at Green Valley Ranch and inside Sunset Station hotel-casino offer free ice cream to benefit St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Throughout the day, guest celebrity “scoopers” will serve up ice cream as part of the all-day event. All small cones are free with no purchase necessary, but you’re encouraged to make a donation on site to St. Jude’s.
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Woodside Homes | William Lyon Homes | Toll Brothers | Ryland Homes | Pulte Homes | Lennar Richmond American Homes | KB Home | Condo Capital Solutions | Christoper Homes
Companion | april 2013
Bear’s Best Golf Course - The Ridges
a Personal sp ce
Five valley homes showcase their ownersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; personalities, pastimes, passions â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and obsessions
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Can’t keep their hands off
he problem with the house is we change everything.” Roxy and Logan Hendrickson have been rushing to make some last-minute finishes for the photo shoot, working on tiling the breakfast nook the last couple of days, which is typical of the young couple’s energy and ambition. “It’ll look different on Tuesday,” Logan assures me, referring to the area off the kitchen surrounded by blowing fans. “It’ll look different in a year,” Roxy said, gesturing around the entire space. Logan and Roxy built just about everything you see in their madeover log cabin. Walking through the rooms is something akin to reviewing a to-do list as completed by a carpenter on speed. Logan points from feature to feature, describing improvements the
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couple has made working sideby-side over the last five years. Most of what is used inside the house is recycled in some way: the deck that was torn down to recover a soffit, scraps brought in from the cabinet shop Logan’s dad owns and turned into closet doors, bricks given to them by the church down the road, the sink bought for a steal off Craigslist, the cooktop scored on sale at deep discount. The list is long. Instead of giving the home a schizophrenic feel, though, the patchwork of warm wood tones, steel, brick and concrete works to create their vintage modern style. “Not modern modern,” Logan says. “I mean old modern, like, as in, modernism.” Above all else, Logan and Roxy seem born out of time, in a way. Their Henderson home shows a love for retro details and thrift shop finds, and the alacrity with which they tackle their projects. A few weeks ago, when I first talked with Logan about his
shop Onefortythree (page 46), he mused about trying his hand at making a sofa. We’re not talking the kind of wannabe makerism where you might decide to DIY a sofa and, three years later, still be contemplating fabric patterns. Now, as he stands in his living room, he points to an upholstered steel frame now resting under a space-age chandelier
Logan and Roxy Hendrickson turned their home into a living workshop, where change is the only constant. Their aesthetic meets a die-hard DIY approach for something that's both vintage and modern.
(also his own design). “We made this last weekend.” Such rampant productivity is nonstop. He can’t help it. “I constantly pick (the house) apart and make it better,” Logan said.
“A lot of woodworkers are really patient. But I get bored with ideas before they’re done.” It certainly makes for an exciting — and ever-changing — house. — Maureen Adamo DesertCompanion.com | 59
The home of Scott and Cindy McCombs is a testament to the couple's love of Old World-style design and architecture. Scott crafted the pieces himself from concrete.
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A modern take on Old World charm
rom the street, Scott and Cindy McCombs’ house looks pretty much like all the other tract homes in their Henderson neighborhood, but from the inside it’s a whole different story, one reminiscent of a fairy tale. This is because the interior is custom-finished entirely in stone to resemble the rich and elaborate architecture of old Europe. Imagine an enormous stone fireplace, domed and painted ceilings, armors and shields, bronzed sconces and tapestries on the wall. “I love the Old World
look,” says Scott, who designed and created the interior himself from Portland cement. “It started with the fireplace wall being out of balance,” explains Cindy. “It wasn’t symmetrical and that was going to drive us crazy.” Once Scott had centered the fireplace, they decided they would need pavers behind the columns. Then the drywall on the rest of the walls looked cheap in comparison. The entire concept sprung from there — and from Scott’s wild imagination. As the owners of Realm of Design Inc., a local company that designs and manufacturers things like fireplace mantels, columns and fountains, Scott had access to all the tools he needed. His construction background meant he knew how to do it — and his lack of formal training
gave him the freedom to do it. “By not having education in certain areas, I don’t have a limit. I always think outside the box because I don’t know the rules,” says Scott. “I had never made floor tile, never made a countertop, never casted bronze.” Once he’d finished the house, Scott went out the back door to start his next project. The 18foot hole he dug would become an oasis of pools and waterfalls, underwater enclaves, grottoes, a rope bridge, and an elaborate treehouse for his grandkids. “I’m not a guy who’s going to sit down and draw. I just start to go — designs get better that way.” Already, Scott’s itching to start the next thing. “He’s been begging to sell the house,” says Cindy. “He’s like, let’s do it again.” — Chantal Corcoran
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The elegant meets the exotic
here are many personal treasures to be found in Mya Reyes’ 3,200 square-foot Queensridge home, but one of her favorites is a girl’s shiny bronze Shantung dress. Reyes wore it as a child growing up in her Detroit neighborhood. “I just loved that dress!” she says. “I think it was something about the bronziness, and I was just so different when I wore it, because, well, who had 62 | Desert
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a dress like that?” Hanging in her Summerlin closet, six decades later, the dress has more than sentimental value for Reyes. “I think that dress helped to develop me as a person,” she says. It inspired the elegant and exotic style that makes her house a vivid showcase of her personal history. “When we first met Mya, she called herself the reincarnation of Josephine Baker. She was very dressed and glamorous,” says designer Andrea Miranda-Hall of Inspired Design. “So that’s where we took off from.” Recalling the dramatic flair of the early 20thcentury performer known as the
Bronze Venus, they began with the circular staircase. Standard white spindles were replaced with sweeping wrought iron designs; the blonde wooden stairs covered with bold cheetah-print carpeting; the railings painted a dramatic black; and the curved walls were lined in a paper of glistening midnight mica stone to bring it all together. Their design concept grew from there to incorporate Reyes’ eclectic tastes and her many cherished pieces — such as her glass-top dining room table with its base of brass-sculptured rams’ heads. As a consultant in diversity
sales and marketing, Reyes travels a great deal, and she’s always watching for items to bring home. Hence, a charming sculpted warrior from Brazil is perched beneath a modern painting of samurai soldiers from Australia; a brass bird lamp pokes its beak over its shade to look across the room at a rugged bamboo carving from Shanghai; and on a table, above a pair of peacock-print ottomans, sits a delicate 200-year-old porcelain French vase. “It doesn’t really go with my décor,” she says, “but I just love it because it’s so pretty.” Of her exotic, eclectic style Reyes says, “People probably look at my house and wonder, what in the world was she thinking? But it makes me feel happy. I feel happy to be here.” Like a young girl in her favorite dress. — Chantal Corcoran
Mya Reyes' home reads like a travel diary writ large — and loud. From vases to sculptures to carvings and rugs, her home embraces the exotic.
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Clay and Denise Heximer's interior design builds upon their Paradise Palms home's '60s vibe, complete with custom-made frames, planters and wall dividers for added swank.
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A couple of space cadets
ome-shopping is considered an adult pastime, but you might say Clay Heximer had an eye on his Paradise Palms dream home since he was a kid. “I always wanted to live here. When I was growing up in Henderson, we would drive to the Boulevard Mall, and I just loved the houses around here. They were so ... Jetsons-esque. I love that space age stuff.” Years later, when he and his wife Denise were in the market for a new pad, they considered one particular house in the historic neighborhood as their template dream home, a 1962 William Krisel-designed twostory, complete with a swanky champagne-bubble pattern block wall and generous clerestory windows. “Anything cookie-cutter is
just obscene to me,” says Denise. “Personality is important.” They didn’t think that the iconic home that sat on a commanding rise at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac was itself available — until they asked. They bought the historic house in February 2010. Better yet, it was in exceptional condition. “Clay didn’t hang up anything on the walls for a year because he wanted to be very careful where he put nail holes,” Denise jokes. The couple carries the modern, space-age vibe through the home with furniture and accessories that are either commissioned custom pieces (the Sputnik ceiling lights, the forced-perspective frames, the ovoid planters), or scored at garage sales, antique stores or online — like one of Clay’s prized furnishings he found on Craigslist: his kingly contour lounger, a classic vinyl beast that reclines, vibrates and massages (and can probably command starships). Its curves contrasts with the sharp lines of the floating fire-
place, which playfully turns the traditional wood-burning hearth into something more like a TV console. Next to that, a custom room divider restates the champagne bubble pattern. And speaking of tippling: Clay thought he was seeing things when he looked at the home’s original plans and saw the basement den designated as “the bar.” “We’ve entertained more people than we should in that room,” he jokes. The intimate space is livened up with classic signage and a portrait of our own ill-fated space-age casino, The Landmark. Piece by piece, their dream home is gradually coming together. Some of the furniture they can even drive. You have to go to the driveway to see that particular piece — it’s Denise’s baby-blue 1960 Thunderbird. It ensures Clay and Denise arrive at the neighborhood’s monthly Paradise Palms Social Club shindigs in style. The only thing better would be a spaceship. — Andrew Kiraly
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The town and country bachelor pad
t was the real estate boom that first drew engineer Kevin Siler to Las Vegas and prompted him to buy so many properties, including a two-bedroom condominium in Veer Towers. Then, when the market dipped south, he sold most of them — “I got out at the right time,” he says — even the 3,600 square-foot house he’d been living in; and he downgraded the condo (pre-closing) to a studio loft. This was to be his new home. “The day of close, I walked in here and I about hit my knees,” says the 6-foot-2, 45-year-old bachelor. The stark white walls of the 500 square-foot suite felt like they were closing in on him, despite an entire wall of glass overlooking CityCenter. Siler was used to more space. He turned to Andrea MirandaHall of Inspired Designs. The
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designer’s first challenge was to contend with the limited space. Her second was to balance her client’s traditional style and the Vegas aesthetic. Raised on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, Siler’s a man’s man: He hunts, he does woodwork, he wears cowboy boots. Just outside his window, modern Vegas pulses relentlessly. They began with the screaming walls. Drawing inspiration from Siler’s boots, they opted for black, faux-crocodile skin wallpaper. “It just instantly made it feel like a bachelor pad,” says MirandaHall, and it established the view as the focal point. The entryway was painted in a faux finish of metallic plaster to give the place a touch of Vegas glimmer — while remaining tough enough to suit Siler. “That’s why you’ll see the rivets on things, the hardware. He likes to see the mechanical parts,” says Miranda-Hall. “It’s just what I do, base metals, things like that,” adds Siler, who designs fire suppression for mining machines. His work has him travelling regularly to mines all over the world, so the condo is more of a weekend spot for Siler, which helped to settle the space issue.
Instead of thinking traditional apartment, the two made their design choices in line with hotel living. Instead of a sofa, they brought in a pair of swivel chairs — modern, but large enough to comfortably seat a man of Siler’s stature. Instead of a kitchen table, Siler’s crafted a sleek, multi-functional unit to serve as a computer desk or an eating area. He made it from reclaimed wood he dragged from the bottom of Lake Michigan, a hobby of his. (“For fun and exercise,” he says.) The bloodorange accents in the bedding, throw pillows and smaller appliances are drawn from the only art on his walls: the first lithograph of a painting by artist Lona Blank. (The savvy investor’s tucked the original away for safekeeping.) Siler’s choice in art — a contemporary perspective of the iconic Las Vegas sign, as seen past a martini glass — reflects the modern man in the crocodile boots, the one who loves Sin City’s upscale lounges and downtown lifestyle. “When I touch the elevator button, my decision is left or right for dinner,” he says. “Am I in the mood for a glass of wine or a martini?” — Chantal Corcoran
Kevin Siler's small condo in Veer Towers balances the rugged and the refined, reflecting his country roots â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and his desire for big-city pleasures. Because he's on the road a lot, a no-fuss hotel sensibility makes the space efficient but sophisticated.
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Watch this seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s colors literally lighten up, with head-to-toe pastels that go easy on the eyes
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Robert John Kley STYLING
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Rebecca Taylor cream top, $350 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Tarina Tarantino flower clip, $50 Tarina Tarantino grosgrain rose clip, $88 Tarina Tarantino poppy flower clip, $88 Tarina Tarantino collage pendant, $100 tarinatarantino.com Tory Burch Helen dress, $795 Tory Burch in the Shoppes at Palazzo
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Equipment blouse, $188 T by Alexander Wang twill trousers, $275 Charlotte Olympia Bon Bon pumps, $845 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Paul Smith Black Label blazer, $970 Paul Smith at Crystals in CityCenter Tarina Tarantino grosgrain ribbon headband, $63 Tarina Tarantino bracelet, $95 Tarina Tarantino silk dahlia clip, $70 tarinatarantino.com DesertCompanion.com | 71
Theory Elenian fabric moto leather jacket, $845 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Donna Karan pencil skirt, $895 Donna Karan viscose V-neck tank, $395 Donna Karan at Crystals in CityCenter BCBG MAXAZRIA necklace, $178 BCBG MAXAZRIA stone earrings, $58 BCBG Town Square
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Skaist Taylor Gia dress, $2,300 Skaist Taylor lamb jacket, $970 Valentino Rockstud pumps, $895 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Tarina Tarantino rose and pearldrop earrings, $30 Tarina Tarantino butterly hair clip (worn as brooch), $75 Tarina Tarantino charm necklace, $45 tarinatarantino.com
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Tarina Tarantino bow necklace, $40 tarinatarantino.com Paul Smith Black Label silk pants, $495 Paul Smith Paul X sweater, $395 Paul Smith cotton shirt, $495 Paul Smith at Crystals in CityCenter
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D Marni pink print blouse, $1,000 Marni silk skirt with chiffon overlay, $1,070 Marni mint green A-line skirt, $1,280 Marni at Crystals in CityCenter Gucci tan belt, $265 Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall
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Zegna white trousers, $295 Burberry Brit pink cotton shirt, $195 Hugo Boss cotton blazer, $445 Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall Orciani leather belt, $195 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall
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Drew Paul Smith floral skirt, $620 Paul Smith floral top, $300 Paul Smith at Crystals in CityCenter Casadei alligator embossed platform pump, $750 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Chris White leather driving shoes, $328 Taurillions white leather belt, $235 Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall John Varvatos slim-fit shirt, $195 John Varvatos Hampton slim-fit dress pants, $398 John Varvatos in the Forum Shops at Caesars
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Drew Rachel Zoe Lucite link necklace, $450 Rachel Zoe glass drop earrings, $225 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Donna Karan oyster silk tank dress with jersey bodice, $95 Donna Karan in Crystals at CityCenter Chris ETRO cotton dress shirt, $295 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall
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Drew Moschino blue-stripe dress, $795 Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall Chris Vince linen shirt, $168 Vince navy trousers, $210 Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show Mall
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Drew Balenciaga pink dress, $1,075 Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall Chris John Varvatos slim-fit shirt, $248 John Varvatos in the Forum Shops at Caesars
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a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t
You know him as Ira Glass, but call him DJ Life for this gig. In “Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass,” he’ll create a “This American Life” show by mixing live onstage stories with pre-taped quotes and music. Maybe he’ll even wear outsized headphones and make that wikki-wah! sound. “Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass” is 7:30 p.m. April 27 at The Smith Center. Tickets $26-$99. Info: thesmithcenter.com
ira glass : stuart mullenberg
“Exquisite Corpse” is a collaborative art game that works like this: I draw a body part, fold the paper to hide it and let you draw the next body part. Repeat. The result is OMG THAT’S WEIRD. We should let real artists do this — which is what 20 of them are doing for the big “Exquisite Corpse” fundraiser exhibit for the Contemporary Arts Center. The fundraiser is 5-8 p.m. May 2 at the Contemporary Arts Center at the Arts Factory. The exhibit is on display through May 4. Info: caclasvegas.org
The artists in the “Asleep in Vegas” show explore the theme through a variety of media, including a performance piece by Anne Mulford (pictured), who on April 4 will sleep in a cubicle and be stared at by curious onlookers. Hey, I did that at our last office party. I’m an artist! “Asleep in Vegas” is on exhibit April 4-27 at RTZ Vegas in Art Square, 1017 S. First St. #195. Info: rtzvegas.com.
Want your event in our Calendar? Submit your event with a brief description to email@example.com.
Esteban’s Spanish guitar music is a custom blend of new age, classic love songs and Latin pop. Throw in his fiery chops and you’ve got infectious music that’ll have you tearing your shirt off and dancing on the tables okay we didn’t mean literally hey now please get down or we’re calling security. Esteban performs “Music from the Heart” 7 p.m. April 18 and 19 at Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center. Tickets $35-$59. Info: thesmithcenter.com
With every sip you take at UNLVino, you’re raising scholarship money for UNLV students. So you’re not getting drunk, you’re administering college funds. ADMINISTER ON BRO! UNLVino is 7 p.m. April 18-20 and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 21 at multiple locations, including The Venetian, The Mirage, Paris Las Vegas and the Lou Ruvo Center. Tickets $100-$350. Info: unlvino.com DesertCompanion.com | 87
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Art THE 10TH CIRCLE - TO HELL AND BACK Through April 13. Curator David Pagel brings together works that look like they have been through the wringer and have emerged from the journey battered and more beautiful than ever before: more fierce, even ferocious, in their pieced-back-together defiance, their mutant beauty more unsettling and potent. VAST space projects and USA Lounge, vastspaceprojects.com
FIRST FRIDAY April 5 & May 3, 5p-11p. Downtownâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s monthly arts and culture event continues to grow bigger and better, featuring art exhibits, open galleries, live music and DJs, food trucks, performances and more. Free. Arts District and Fremont East in the Get Back Alley, firstfridaylasvegas.com SUSTAINABLE STYLE: FASHION AND PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT
Through June 16. T he Springs Preserve has gone couture! Organized by the Fashion for a Cause and the Springs Preserve, this fashion exhibit features looks from designers constructed from recycled or reused materials, sustainable fabrics or locally-produced wares. Free for members or included with paid general admission. Big Springs Gallery at Springs Preserve INSIDE MY NIGHTMARES BY JULIO ROBERTO MORALES April 4, 6-9p preview; April 5, 6-11p opening. This Los Angeles-based artist invites you into his mind of nightmares, horror and despair. His pieces include beautiful womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s faces, attacking panda bears and screaming children, in this pen-and-ink exhibit of new works. 303 North Studio inside the Arts Factory, 303northstudio.tumblr.com
Dance A MOVING FEAT April 5, 8p; April 6, 2 and 8p. A n eclectic mix of dance styles featuring students and faculty, presented by UNLVâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Department of Dance. Choreographers include Dolly Kelepecz, Jeneane Gallo Huggins, Greg Sample, Don Bellamy, Margot Mink Colbert, and Debra Noble. $18. Judy Bayley Theatre at UNLV, 895-ARTS
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KAUMAKAIWA KANAKAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;OLE April 13, 7p. T his five-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner is an accomplished hula dancer and singer in the Hawaiian language, honored at the 2009 awards as Male Vocalist of the Year. He brings a love of the Hawaiian culture to this all-ages performance. $10 advance, $15 door. Historic Fifth Street School Auditorium, kaumakaiwakanakaole.com LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO April 23, 7:30p. Dancing the fine line between high art and high camp, this all-male comedic dance troupe delights audiences around the world. Satirizing classical works from â&#x20AC;&#x153;Swan Lakeâ&#x20AC;? to â&#x20AC;&#x153;Giselle,â&#x20AC;? the choreography of Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch, George Balanchine and others, they offer an irresistible evening for dance aficionados and comedy-lovers of all ages. $26-$79. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
LAS VEGAS PHILHARMONICâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S MASTERWORKS IV: A TOUCH OF BRASS April 6, 8p; p re-concert conversation 7:15p. A celebration of brass instruments featuring acclaimed trumpet duo Barbara Butler and Charles Geyer conducted by Daniel Meyer, with special appearance by the Clark County School District Honor Brass Ensemble. Concert also features Brahmsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Symphony No. 3 and Barberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Overture to School for Scan-
dal. $46-$94 Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, lvphil.com DESERT WINDS: CHAMBER SKETCHES April 7, 7:30p. A stripped-down stage provides an intimate setting to highlight musical discussions by some of the most influential composers throughout history: Copland, Milhaud, Mozart, Lady Gaga … even a sampling of spoken words from daytime talk shows, transcending simple and familiar melodies to create an artistic exchange of expressive illustrations. $10 donation. Green Valley United Methodist Church, 2200 Robindale Road, thedesertwinds.org BOBBY MCFERRIN: SPIRITYOUALL April 7, 7:30p. T his ten-time Grammy Award winner presents a soulful reimagining of American Negro Spirituals. Together with his band, he revisits beloved traditional songs alongside heartfelt originals, in an evening of great musicianship, community and pure fun. $29-$89. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center UNLV STUDIO JAZZ ENSEMBLE COMPOSERS SHOWCASE April 10, 7p. This series highlights the best student musicians from UNLV’s Jazz Studies Program. Each month you’ll hear different ensembles performing various styles of jazz: from mainstream to contemporary, vocals to Big Band. Co-sponsored by UNLV Department of Jazz Studies. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org ARLO GUTHRIE: HERE COMES THE KID April 11, 7:30p. The eldest son of Woody Guthrie, America’s most beloved singer/ writer/philosopher, will honor his father’s memory and 100th birthday with a night of inspiring music and storytelling. With his exceptional solo skills, he proves that the folk tradition his father helped create is still alive and well. $24-$59. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
Thursday, April 4 at 6pm THE RUNWAY AT FASHION SHOW
Issue Party APRIL 2013
Calling on fashionistas! Desert Companion and Fashion Show invite you to Girls Night Out – All That Sparkles. Join us for a fabulous evening featuring chic cocktails and tasty bites at the center of it all – The Fashion Show Runway! Grab your girlfriends and enjoy mini makeovers, exciting entertainment, glamorous giveaways, and more! You’ll be set for Spring with the seasons “must haves” as we present a stylish Spring runway show and fashion presentation. Don’t be fashionably late! The first fifty stylish ladies to present their RSVP confirmation at the event will receive an exclusive Girls Night Out swag bag filled with $75 of gifts and goodies from some of your favorite retailers.
RSVP at DesertCompanion.com
JULIE BUDD: SHOW-STOPPERS April 12, 7p; April 13, 3 & 7p. An evening of memorable musical moments that have made people fall in love with the theater over and over. “Show-Stoppers” is also filled with backstage memories and stories that go back to Julie’s start in show business as a child, when she worked alongside many legendary stars. $39-$49. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center SERGIO AND ODAIR ASSAD WITH SPECIAL GUEST CLARICE ASSAD April 20, 7p; April 21, 3p. Long considered the greatest guitar duo alive today, The Assad brothers welcome Sergio’s daughter Clarice
For more details visit thefashionshow.com or desertcompanion.com
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to join them in a sublime mix of Brazilian classical, jazz and pop standards. $33-$45. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center JAZZ ROOTS: THE AMERICAN SONGBOOK April 26, 7:30p. A grand celebration of The American Songbook, featuring acclaimed artists Ann Hampton Callaway, multi-platinum recording artist and Tony nominee; Tony Desare, hailed as the modern-day Frank Sinatra; and Landau Eugene Murphy, a first-place winner of “America’s Got Talent.” $29-$89. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center LANG LANG April 29, 7:30p. Heralded as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet” by The New York Times, this pianist’s unrivaled talent and charisma have catapulted him into the global spotlight. The Chinese superstar will perform select works from Mozart and Chopin in what is sure to be a highlight of the year. $39-$129. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
CSN PRESENTS ONE-ACT WORKSHOP PERFORMANCES April 12-13, 7:30p; April 14, 2p. CSN’s Department of Fine Arts gives students the opportunity to experience the joy of acting and/ or directing one-act plays, seven of which will be staged each day, each running 10-20 minutes, with more than 30 people involved as directors, actors or crew. $5. BackStage Theatre at CSN, csn.edu/pac THE LEARNED LADIES BY MOLIERE April 12-13; 18-20, 8p; April 14 & 21, 2p This comedy, which focuses on academic pretension and female education, looks at the lives of three “learned” ladies whose uncontrollable obsession is learning and culture, of the most conceited kind. The women use every tactic to advance themselves, including obtaining a special protégé to be the fixture of their literary salon. $10-$15. Black Box Theatre at UNLV, unlv.edu/nct RAPUNZEL! RAPUNZEL! A VERY HAIRY FAIRY TALE April 26-27; May 3-4, 7p; April 28 & May 4-5, 2p Presented by Rainbow Company Youth Theatre, the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel
comes to life in this lively and funny musical appropriate for the whole family. Enjoy a new twist on an old tale from the writing team that created “How I Became a Pirate.” $3-$7. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St. artslasvegas.org
Lectures, Speakers and Panels AN EVENING WITH LINDSEY LEAVITT April 3, 7p. T his local author will talk about writing tween fantasies for young adults and creating quirky characters like Mallory in the forthcoming “Going Vintage,” who swears off boys and technology after her boyfriend cheats on her with an online girlfriend. Free. Jewel Box Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org POURING TEA: BLACK GAY MEN OF THE SOUTH TELL THEIR TALES April 4, 7p. E thnographer, thespian and Northwestern University professor E. Patrick Johnson’s one-man monologue, “Pouring Tea” is a dramatic reading based on the oral histories collected in his book. The stories are from black gay men born and raised in
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for more information.
Focus nevada on
nikon dX 5200 w/18-55mm Lens kit + $500 gift card from B&C Camera
1st PlaCe - $400 gift card and
photography class from B&C Camera
2nd PlaCe - $250 gift card and
photography class from B&C Camera
1st PlaCe - $400 gift card and
Got a Good eye?
Share your vision of Nevada in the “Focus on Nevada” Desert Companion Photo Contest. Whether it’s a landscape, portrait or an eye-catching candid that captures Nevada, we want to see it.
All photographers, from amateurs to students to professionals, are encouraged to enter. Winners and finalists’ photos will be published in the June issue of Desert Companion, and be featured in an upcoming Desert Companion photography exhibit, June 6.
DeaDliNe For oPen your shutter and get shooting! submissioNs is may 5
photography class from B&C Camera
2nd PlaCe - $250 gift card and
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1st Place - $400 gift card and photography class from B&C Camera 2nd Place - $250 gift card and photography class from B&C Camera
Camera Phone winner
$100 gift card to B&C Camera
Prizes sponsored by
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a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t
the South, covering coming of age, religion, sex, transgenderism, love, and coming out. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, epatrickjohnson.com 5TH ANNUAL SPRING FLING LOCAL AUTHOR BOOK FAIR April 6, 11a-3p. O ne hundred local and regional authors discuss, sell and sign their new releases and bestsellers; a Hollywood writers’ panel; a live psychic reading with Las Vegas author and
intuitive Gregory Kompes; a concert with classical/jazz fusion artist Shana Tucker. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, lvccld.org BMI FELLOWS IN CONVERSATION: OKSANA MARAFIOTI & CRISELDA YABES April 10, 7p. O ksana Marafioti’s memoir, “American Gypsy,” is a moving portrait of alienation and discovery, a “culture shock on steroids.” Criselda Yabes’ “Peace Warriors: On the Trail with Filipino Soldiers,” is
Exhibition made possible by the generous support of The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
the winner of the 2012 Philippines’ National Book Award for nonfiction in English. Moderated by UNLV professor and PEN/ Faulkner Award winner Richard Wiley. Free. Greenspun Hall Auditorium at UNLV, blackmountaininstitute.org EMERGING WRITERS SERIES: AMARANTH BORSUK April 16, 7p. T he work of this poet and scholar focuses on textual materiality. In addition to a chapbook and an award-winning book of poems, her collaboration with Brad Bouse, “Between Page and Screen,” is a hybrid digital/print artist’s book, with abstract geometric patterns (instead of text) that reveal themselves as poetic love letters with the aid of a webcam. Free. UNLV Greenspun Hall Auditorium, blackmountaininstitute.org REINVENTING RADIO: AN EVENING WITH IRA GLASS April 27, 7:30p. The series creator of “This American Life” will recreate the sound of his boundaries-pushing public radio show right in front of the audience by mixing live onstage stories with pre-taped quotes and music, while also featuring a “best of” segment from the series’ funniest moments. Presented by the Audi Speaker Series. $26-$99. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center
Family & Festivals CSI: CRIME SCENE INSECTS Through May 12. C rime-solving insects crack the case, and you’re the witness! Inspired by the hit television series, this hands-on exhibit developed by ExhibitIQ invites investigation into the fascinating field of forensic entomology (the use of insects to help solve crimes). Free for members or included with paid general admission. Springs Preserve WILD SOUTH AMERICA - ANIMAL SHOW Through May, weekends and holidays, 11a & 1p. From rainforest to desert, these animals in have adapted to survive in their unique habitats, much like the animals in the Mojave. Rotating cast of live animals may include snakes, macaws, llamas, conures, parrots, tarantulas, coatimundi, capybara, kinkajou, Patagonian Mara, and the endangered Andean Condor. Included with general admission. Outdoor Amphitheater (weather permitting) at Springs Preserve
March 9, 2013 - May 19, 2013 DISCOVERY Children’s Museum Traveling Exhibition Hall Locally Sponsored By:
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WILD SOUTH AMERICA - BACKSTAGE PASS Through May, weekends and holidays, 2p. Touch and take photos with several of the animals from the Wild South America show, and learn more about how they are cared for and trained. $10 per person; a paying adult must accompany children under 5; all guests 2 and older must be ticketed for the Backstage Pass. Springs Preserve
PALEONTOLOGY AWARENESS MONTH Weekends in April. Learn all about Paleontology and discover how fossils are made with fun activities! Meet live animals during Critter Connections and see what they have in common with dinosaurs! Free with general admission. Las Vegas Natural History Museum, vnhm.org/weekend-science 20TH ANNUAL CLARK COUNTY CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL April 20, 10a-3p. Arts and crafts, exotic animals from Roos ‘n’ More, clown workshops, percussion workshops, storytelling and carnival games, a rock climbing wall, historic battles, pony rides, food and drink vendors, along with strolling performers and the Matachina-style dance group Danza Sagrada Familia. Free, with small fees for some rides. Winchester Cultural Center 3RD ANNUAL MAD MUD RUN & MUDPUPPY SPLASH April 27, 8a. A different kind of race! This unique event includes an action-packed obstacle course that culminates with a 40foot long mud pit. Entertainment, refreshments, volleyball, soccer and other park games will also be available. Prizes for the most creative costumes! Bring new or gently used books for Spread the Word Nevada. $15-$60 includes a t-shirt and dog tag. Knickerbocker Park, 10695 W. Dorrell Lane, madmudrun.com
MAY 9 | 6 P.M.
THE DISTRICT AT GREEN VALLEY RANCH
Join us to learn expert tips for a happy, well-behaved dog — and how to teach your pooch some cool tricks. This is a pet-friendly event – for friendly pets. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT US ONLINE AT WWW.DESERTCOMPANION.COM/DCONTOUR
Upload Your Pup’s Photo at shopthedistrictgvr.com/nexttopdog
DÍA DEL NIÑO April 27, 10a-3p. C elebrated worldwide (notably in Mexico) at various times throughout the year, this event celebrates childhood and honors the little ones. Hours of fun for children of all ages includes: clowns and magicians, dancing and singing groups, interactive games, traditional Mexican food and drink, hands-on arts and crafts and more. $3-$6, free for 4 and younger. Springs Preserve THE GREAT VEGAS FESTIVAL OF BEER April 27, 3-5p, early entry & VIP 2p. Nevada’s largest celebration of craft beer from 50 local, regional and international breweries, with more than 200 craft beers, live music and good eats from local restaurants and vendors. A portion of ticket sales will benefit The Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas. $30-$65 includes a ride home! Events Center at Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Road, greatvegasbeer.com
NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO
Join us at the Nevada Public Radio offices Saturday, April 27, 8 a.m. to noon. Shred your old paperwork, recycle glass, aluminum and plastic— even appliances, computers and cell phones. All for free! 1289 S. TORREY PINES DRIVE, LAS VEGAS, NV 89146
Fundraisers AFAN’S 23RD ANNUAL AIDS WALK April 14, 8a. AFAN’s largest fundraiser provides money for programs to assist and educate
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.KNPR.ORG SPONSORED BY
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more than 4,000 men, women and children infected with HIV and AIDS in Southern Nevada. Last year, more than 9,000 people and 250 teams raised more than $450,000. Visit the web site for various walker incentives, including the Penn & Teller Challenge! UNLV campus, afanlv.org 39TH ANNUAL UNLVINO: FALL IN LOVE AGAIN April 18-20, 7-10p; April 21 11a-2p. Nevada’s original wine festival expands to four days at four locations, showcasing an array of world-class food and international beverages and continuing Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada’s mission to raise millions of scholarship dollars for students of UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. $100-$350. The Venetian, The Mirage, Paris Las Vegas and the Lou Ruvo Center, unlvino.com NEVADA’S BIG GIVE WITH CHEERS TO CHARITY April 25, 6-9p. T his upbeat social event benefiting After-School All-Stars Las Vegas will encompass three locations: The View Wine Bar at Market LV (hors d’oeuvres and wine), Cantina Laredo (margaritas, chips, fresh gua-
camole and a mariachi performance by After-School All-Stars), and Parmida Home (cigar rolling, coffee, and cupcakes). $40 advance, $45 door. Tivoli Village, 302 S. Rampart, nevadagives.org ARTISTS FOR AUTISM April 26, 7-11p. O ne hundred guitars transformed into spectacular, unique artworks by 100 Las Vegas artists will be exhibited and auctioned at this gala event benefiting Autism Community Trust and other Southern Nevada autism charities. Also raising funds: t-shirts, a coffee-table book and poster featuring the guitars. $100 includes a cocktail reception, live music and celebrity chef tastings. Keep Memory Alive Event Center at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, facebook. com/CelebrateLasVegas NATIONAL REBUILDING DAY April 27, convene 7-9a. P resented by Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada, this daylong event unites more than 1,500 volunteers and community sponsors to repair and renovate 20 homes of low-income homeowners free of charge, throughout the Las Vegas Valley, in just one day! Donate time, materials,
Get More Out of Being a
or monetary gifts: 259-4900. Various locations, rtsnv.org 4TH ANNUAL 5K AUTISM RACE FOR HOPE AND FUN WALK April 27, 7:30a-noon. Autism is being diagnosed at an accelerating pace and affects more children than AIDS, diabetes, and cancer combined. This family-friendly event will benefit the nonprofit charity Grant a Gift Autsim Foundation, which helps Nevada children and their families. $10-$35 includes free event shirt and family picnic, raffle prizes, awards, entertainment and special celebrity guests! Town Square, grantagiftautismfoundation.org EVENING OF HOPE EPICUREAN EXPERIENCE April 27, 6-11p. A night of culinary tastes from top Las Vegas restaurants, children’s art, silent and live auction to benefit Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada. $100 plus an optional $25 (or more), includes live entertainment and cocktails, wine and a wide variety of hors d’oeuvres. Keep Memory Alive Event Center at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, candlelightersnv.org
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Companion | April 2013
Get low: paraphernalia about the famous underground house
What do you call the design style of this underground house? Subterranean Modern? Paranoidism? Suburban Apocalyptica? Maybe Cold War Just-In-Case-ism? This underground home — a legendary if largely unseen feature of the Vegas Valley cityscape — was built in the late 1960s by Avon founder Girard Henderson. Like many Americans at the time, Henderson shuddered to imagine a nuclear holocaust raining destruction on the U.S. Unlike most Americans, however, Henderson could afford to do something in case the unthinkable happened. On Spencer Avenue just north of Flamingo Road, he built what might be called a luxury fallout shelter, a $10 million, 16,500 square-foot subterranean spread that could ostensibly survive a Bolshevik bombing — in style and comfort. It came complete with its own underground generator and fuel tank, an “outdoor” backyard with fake trees and artificial
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Companion | april JANUARY 20132013
turf, heated swimming pool and hot tub, and a computerized lighting system that cycles “day” and “night.” Henderson was not alone in building against the threat of the bomb; in fact, the home’s protected “ship-in-a-bottle” design was inspired by builder Jay Swayze, who had even founded a company, Underground World Homes, dedicated to protecting (rich) people from what Swayze saw as probable nuclear war and an uninhabitable planetary surface. But — perhaps fortunately — no mass market ever materialized for deep-dig digs, and the company disbanded in the mid-1960s. Henderson’s underground house remains, however, now in a different age with different worries and fears. Which raises the question: Maybe it’s nukeproof, but can it withstand a zombie apocalypse? (sources: Los Angeles Times, UNLV Special Collections) — Andrew Kiraly
p h oto : b r e n t h o l m e s
Notes from underground
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