By Pierson Brown
The visual arts culture in las vegas has been building its roots in the 18b arts district but many things are threatening poison that ground. In an attempt to keep their businesses alive and keep creating, some are finding solace in a new area. Fortunately, New Orleans Square has been spoken of as a new home. Do these claims have merit? Is this the next nexus of culture? Possibly.
Currently housed within the Square, along with a few galleries, are 4 restaurants, 3 tattoo shops, 3 salon/barber shops, 1 florist, A violin fixer, 4 massage parlor/ spas, 2 spiritual healers, 3 multimedia groups, A comic book/ nerd mecca, 2 dance schools, 3 religious organizations or churches, 4 drug-free spaces/ addiction recovery spaces, and 1 bar. The area surrounding has a dubious reputation but could be worse.
Let’s start off with all the great things about this area. The first positive is the parking situation. There are ample places to park, which means more people can go and will actually want to go there- a common complaint regarding large events in the downtown arts district. There is a lot of room for different galleries, seeing as the building has 2 floors. There is a solid diversity of businesses, which has its pros and cons. A few restaurants and an easily accessible corner store allow the New Orleans Square to be a place where you can have a full night, not just an event. The fact that it has multiple “sober spaces” invites people who aren’t just out for a drink but also solutions for those who are. However, for those who do wish to drink, The Las Vegas Lounge has you covered with very affordable drinks and an intimate atmosphere.
The building itself is well kept and accessible, with 2 elevators located within. They also have begun organizing building events, as the real estate manager wants to shift the clientele from shops and churches to something more involved.
There are a couple of galleries here already. Happy Earth Market isn’t a gallery per se but they do showings and are some of the oldest tenants in the building. It’s also a social and consignment space where they sell various creations and host outdoor markets. Core Contemporary is a modern art gallery and studio run by Nancy Good. Arguably the strongest case for the ability to shift vibes, Core Contemporary has monthly shows that heavily feature local artists, among others, and often underrepresented communities.
Not a gallery but a gem in its own right, The Sci-Fi Center is a comic shop that also hosts podcasts, film showings, and meetups. There were a few others that may have been galleries but I found very little information and were not open, so there is a possibility of more places containing unseen treasures.
This filters into one of the few issues I noticed with the development becoming what some people want it to. Several of the establishments within are appointment only or close at 5pm. With many venues currently only open in the evening on certain event nights, the ability to breathe artistic life into the center is hampered. Most people work day jobs and currently, the location is quiet on most nights. If they are going for a fancier client base, sure, this might work. But it seems like that’s a strange evolution for the area. How are average, working people supposed to see the work? Every establishment seems to do its own thing, a bit separated. However, this will most likely be solved by migration and time.
Overall, The New Orleans Square is an affordable opportunity for artist spaces. If you’re looking for workspace or a different kind of evening, this might quench your thirst.