An expanse of green lawn accommodating giant white rabbits is an unusual scene in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, but miraculously appeared for the three days of the Life is Beautiful Festival. The inflatable rabbits that glow with light at night are the creations of Australian artist Amanda Parer. True to their reputation for rapid procreation, these rabbits have spread from the shores of Sydney Harbour to festivals and public spaces across the globe.
Although the music line-up is the main focus of the Life is Beautiful festival, the street art program curated by Charlotte Dutoit of JUSTKIDS is a big drawcard and is creating an ever-changing outdoor gallery throughout the 18 city blocks that are enveloped by the festival footprint. A number of murals have survived from previous years including works by UK artist D-face, Californian artist Zio Ziegler and the Brazilian Bicicleta Sem Freio. Other walls have been recycled and now feature works by Shepard Fairey, Fafi and Felipe Pantone.
Las Vegas-based artist Justin Favela’s large-scale paper work Piñata Motel, like Farer’s rabbits, enchants us for a fleeting time then is gone. There are however some sculptural installations enjoyed during the festival that will continue to be on view. Laura Kimpton’s giant red LOVE letters have been purchased by the Venetian Las Vegas and the much-travelled Big Rig Jig by Mike Ross has now found a permanent home at the Ferguson Motel on East Fremont St.
The festival also collaborated with the Zabludowicz Collection to exhibit neon works by Nick Darmstaedter and Dan Attoe in a glowing red environment that was previously the office of the Ferguson Motel. A little further west on Fremont in the old Western Hotel, Californian gallery M Modern curated the large group show Crime on Canvas focusing on links between music and art.
Multi-colored light trees, art cars, giant video screens and the creative attire of festival attendees all adds to the visual festival spectacle. As RuPaul Charles, keynote speaker for the festival’s Ideas program phrased it, “Laughter, music and color are tools for happiness. If you want it, life is beautiful”.