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Photo by Nancy Good
Photo by Nancy Good

Monday evening: Cucumber martinis and glasses of champagne were quickly finished off as guests filed out of the Social House bar and headed down to a cordoned off alcove in the main atrium of the Shops at Crystals, Aria. Behind a red ribbon, long, spindle-legged metallic beasts quietly foraged among silver globules. They are the sculptural creations of Korean artist Wook Jang Cheung. A curatorial collaboration between Viva Tours, Crystals, Sin City Gallery Director Laura Henkel and Shunmei Jin of JSM Art in China led to the allocation of space within Crystals for art installations and brought the work of Cheung to the United States for the first time. The exhibit is the first of what is to be an ongoing art installation space at Crystals.

Wearing traditional Hanbok Korean garb and a merry twinkle behind his thick-rimmed glasses, Cheung came forward and began posing for photos with guests and dignitaries. The ribbon was cut soon after, and a guest picked up one of the silken fragments for a souvenir; noticing, Cheung came over and signed it.

The leggy, mirrored beasts feel like a Jeff Koon’s piece crossed with one of the tall, surreal animals from a Salvador Dali painting. Like streams of water, the legs undulate down to the floor, implying liquid mobility. The curious silver stones deposited among the small herd emphasize the height of the creatures while also inciting a host of associations. They could be eggs, pods or perhaps seeds? The liquid legs transform into roots. Like coalesced residue from rivers of silver nitrate, the rounded silver globs become the acorns of alien trees.

Cheung’s work also extends the liquid silver concept already in place at the Aria, found in the metallic tornados of Tony Cragg and the delicate suspension of Maya Lin’s “Silver River.”

“You can’t just put anything in Crystals,” Henkel explained. “It has to fit.”

Tucked among the glitz of Crystals, replete with audacious window and fashion displays, rotating botanical installations -- the moonlight of a James Turrell installation above -- the tall, shiny animals seem quite at home.

Crystals, 3720 S. Las Vegas Blvd.,