In this week’s Vegas Seven, I have a Latest Thought about a Downtown preservation effort that, I think, says a lot about what the city is becoming:
Which is why it’s interesting to see what new arrivals to Las Vegas notice the most. Slots in convenience stores? Franchise pawnshops? Tap water that’s somewhere north of 11 on the Mohs’ scale?
For Bryan McCormick and Mark Johnson, something different stood out: the hand-painted signs found on many downtown businesses.
Those signs—created by prolific but mostly anonymous painters strictly as works for hire—have a certain homey charm. Sometimes mid-century modern, sometimes Western colloquial, they are authentically Vegas. And, McCormick and Johnson discovered after seeing a few signs whitewashed over, they were in danger of disappearing.
What I find interesting is the contrast between this effort and a project I was involved with ten years ago, the Neon Survey. Funded by Nevada Humanities and carried out in partnership with the Neon Museum, this project was, as I look back on it, very traditional: we reached out to a funding body, but together a proposal, and carried the project out with minimal community involvement. By contrast, Vegas Vernacular is crowd-sourced, open source, and is drawing on the community in a totally different way.