202 Las Vegas, NV: Appearances

The room where the exhibit was held looked like it should be used for small weddings, congratulatory banquets, or business meetings: dark thick carpeting, at once tasteful and able to conceal a variety of stains, was underfoot; the ceiling was paneled with fleur-de-lis designs; and decidedly non-museum-quality pinpoint track lighting was trained on the pieces.

I looked around the room for someone to interview, but everyone had a long piece of plastic stuck against one ear, as they listened to the audio tour that went with the show. Besides, there was no way of knowing in a town as tourist-laden as Vegas whether any of these were locals. One of the security guards however, a stubby older man with a big nose and bristly gray eyebrows, bore a badge with his name and below it his hometown "Las Vegas, Nevada." So I asked him.

"As far as isolation is concerned," he answered, "no, I don't sense the dearth. As far as exclusivity, yes--the Las Vegas people feel special. It's only us and New York as far as being we're one of a kind [cities]. Hopper may have possessed skills, but he doesn't seem able to produce sharpness, the detail. It's lacking passion. Look at the woman in Hotel Window: so forlorn. I'm sure it gets the spirit of isolation captured. It's all flat. It's unrealistic. Walls don't look like that, carpet doesn't look like that. If he didn't intend it, then I find it a contradiction."

He sighed and continued, "I don't know a lot about art. I'm just learning because I work in this gallery. This is a second job for me. I'm a mechanical engineer doing this as a means of financing patent work in the field of environmental science. It's a very lonely life, though, very tough. Practically all the money I make here, goes into parts and components. I have to build certain, uh whadaya call it, prototypes. My late dad always used to say 'It mustn't only work, it must appear to work.'"

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