By Street Art United States - April 16, 2019
On April 12th, 2019 William Shea and Patrick Lai released their joint project Street Art Las Vegas. The book, published by local outfit Smallworks Press, outlines the intricacies of the city’s evolving street art scene. With special thanks given to entities like Las Vegas Arts District and City of Las Vegas, the pages burst with hometown pride and helpful advice to the readers they will inspire to visit. This new compilation stands out for its vibrant photography, which illustrates a city housing uniquely energetic public art.
Shea and Lai share a rich history with the city of Las Vegas. Their “about the authors” section explains that both attended UNLV, where Shea studied photography and writing, and Lai “enrolled in the computer science and fine arts degree program.” Shea “is a professional photographer, writer, and artist” while Lai “is a professional landscape and street art photographer.” Though he moved to Las Vegas from the Boston area to pursue his career in the casino industry, Shea believes that the city should focus on becoming a more well-rounded cultural destination in the post-recession landscape. As such, he’s been heavily involved in the city’s art institutions, working as a “graphic and editorial designer while serving as the treasurer of the Las Vegas Arts District” since November 2016. Lai provides his complimentary expertise in photography with his “commitment to producing only the highest quality images.”
The introduction to the book was written by Ed Fuentes, a famed “Las Vegas artist and scene champion” whose death reported on in February. His inclusion in the book renders it especially poignant. Fuentes’s contribution gets right down to the heart of the matter, as was his standard, noting that “visual disruption is the aesthetic goal for any graffiti artist; it is also a starting point for a region’s contribution to the genre.” He describes the distinct nature of street art in Las Vegas, a transient city due to its reliance on tourism, possessing an obsession with novelty and entertainment, like the proverbial showgirl herself. He explains that before street art stars came to play in the city, its scene was dominated by underground artists, whose work could only be found in back alleyways and the literal underground. Books like Street Art Las Vegas play a crucial role in documenting the works that have existed in this ever-changing landscape.