A lot has changed about downtown since I last worked in the area in late 2010, and a lot of it for the better.
The Fitzgeralds was remade into the nicer D Las Vegas. Zappos took over City Hall, a building that may have been destined to fall into an unknown but not bright future had the internet company stepped forward, spending $40 million to renovate the oddly shaped and structurally problematic building.
The Grand recently opened, bringing new life to the old Lady Luck when many thought there would be none. And what has been done with East Fremont is also amazing, the latest being the opening of Container Park. on 7th and Fremont streets.
I went to Container Park last week and liked what I saw. Many of the retail businesses have yet to open, but the restaurants were ready with children playing in central playground. The only thing that bothered me, and maybe I’m getting old, was the proximity of the bars close to the playground.
Like I said, maybe I’m just getting old.
But let us not forget, at the end of the day, that all these downtown business deals are positioned to make their investors money, not some feel-good urban experiment at the end of a bunch of investors’ check-writing pen. Everyone downtown pumping money into the area are expecting a return on their investment, eventually. They are putting something in, and anticipate getting something out.
But often their message is that they are doing it for our benefit. Sure, they’ll do it for our benefit, as long as there is a return.
This point was driven home last week when a mural was taken off the side of the Emergency Arts building facing the El Cortez on 6th Street. The El Cortez owns the building, so we can assume they made the decision and paid to have the mural painted over.
The mural was painted for the Life is Beautiful festival by artist Interesni Kazki, and depicted a Vegas Vic type of character with a slot machine in its chest, and hands coming up out of the sand. Interesni Kazki is actually two people from the Ukraine; Aleksei Bordusov and Vladamir Manzhos. The one who painted the local mural during a three-month trek in Central America and the United States was Bordusov.
The partnership has painted large murals on the sides of buildings around the world, including in Croatia, Portugal, South Africa, Russia and India.
In a recent interview with ArrestedMotion.com after the trip to Las Vegas, Bordusov said the cultural surroundings of any place he goes impacts the resulting work.
“Surroundings can sometimes have impressive, bright elements, or nice cultural heritage, and sometimes strange and bad elements,” he said in that interview. “These feelings will influence the inspiration.”
Anyone familiar with his work would expect nothing less than what appeared across from a casino.
When the Las Vegas Sun reported the mural was being painted over, operators of Emergency Arts said the reason for the covering was (I kid you not) “it didn’t reflect the spirit of all the people working downtown’ and that “We want (something) positive that makes people happy and reflects the people that are here.”
Oh, thank you for watching out for our sensitive, fragile nature. I guess the large mural with a guy missing an eyeball upset over a lost love who cheated on the side of Cabana Suites is more appropriate.
How about the more honest answer: We own the building, we don’t like it and it’s a business decision.
ARNOLD M. KNIGHTLY is the editor of CityLife. Follow him on Twitter @KnightlyGrind