Urban Sketcher

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Back to Las Vegas already

Posted on Dec 25, 2013 in Las Vegas | 0 comments

View from hotel room at the Bellagio, Las Vegas

Las Vegas Neon Museum

I managed to sketch my friends at the Neon Museum.

In late November, I went to Las Vegas for the second time this year. It was a trip with three other women to celebrate one of their birthdays.

We stayed in the Italianate, Tuscanate, whatever, Bellagio Hotel and had a view of their fountains with a show every half hour, and of the 1/3 life size Eiffel Tower at the Paris Casino. Vegas is always surreal.

A highlight was our excursion to the Neon Museum, where classic neon signs are stored and displayed outdoors in the dry desert air. I had been there twice before and told my three travel companions about it. We took the required guided tour. Since during my previous visits I’d gotten the approximately 800 photos out of my system which this place begs you to take of it (when you’re both a typography and a photography fan, it’s a double burden), I was free to sketch. So I did several quick drawings on site, and added colour later.

It rained pretty much for the full three days we were there. I had never seen rain in Vegas before, and may have had a hard time acknowledging it in my drawings. But we had fun getting to know Vegas and each other better. We saw the show “O”. The other three got some shopping in. I found time to sketch and play Blackjack. And apparently, to open champagne bottles; there seems to be an inordinate number of photos of me doing that on this trip. The other three decided I was the expert at that.

Everything else, as they say oh-so-mysteriously, stays in Vegas. But specifically, they mean in the fancy shrubbery along the Bellagio Hotel driveway.

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

Las Vegas Neon Museum

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The petering out magic of Las Vegas

Posted on May 28, 2013 in Las Vegas | 0 comments

The humble end of Las Vegas Boulevard

Villa Inn Motel, a law firm, and “Wee Kirk o’ the Heather” wedding chapel in downtown Las Vegas. Maybe these businesses cross-promote each other? Opportunities exist. And by the way, I wasn’t drawing in the hot sun, but under a shady tree across the street.

While we had great fun visiting Vegas again with friends over the May long weekend, we decided we’ve now explored it enough and don’t have to go back anytime soon. But to anyone who hasn’t been there: go experience it if you get the chance.

I find Las Vegas fascinating which was a surprise to me the first time I went. I fully expected not to like it. But it may be as simple as this: I really do like drinking and gambling at the same time. I allow myself to play with $50 a day. I like talking and laughing with the dealer, friends, and strangers at the Black Jack table. I like observing my own and others’ strange superstitions about luck which seem to surface there. I dive into an immersive cultural experience. I enjoy the temporary suspension of critical thinking, or any thinking at all.

Plus, where else could I have done the following things, some stupid, some stupendous:

  • visit weird versions of Paris, New York, and Venice in the same day;
  • gaze at a giant ceiling of thousands of back-lit Chihuly glass flowers;
  • ride a waterslide through a shark tank;
  • marvel at both excess and elegance;
  • see a woman slide down a volcano and land in a giant margarita pitcher;
  • encounter the very rich and the very poor;
  • get free drinks brought to me while I gamble;
  • go bowling with drag queens;
  • be suspended from a 900 ft tower in a spinning chair;
  • have a bartender pour a drink into my mouth straight from the cocktail shaker;
  • eat some of the best Italian food outside of Italy;
  • explore the backside of casinos;
  • spend some glorious hours photographing old neon signs rusting in the desert;
  • and do a sketch of the humble part of Las Vegas Boulevard.
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