The Las Vegas festival celebrates the city’s iconic architecture
Aaron Berger was originally an architecture student at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. The book “Learning from Las Vegas” was required reading in his classes.
Berger, however, ignored the requirement. He didn’t read the groundbreaking architecture book as he turned to art history. But today, “Learning from Las Vegas” is certainly required (and repeat) reading in Berger’s role as executive director of the Neon Museum.
“Thirty years later, I now have a very, very dog-eared copy that I’ve read,” Berger says. There is definitely karma involved here.
The book is credited with advancing postmodern architecture and is still taught in schools some 50 years after its original release. His comparison between a “duck” and a “decorated shed” in modern architecture inspired the inaugural “Duck Duck Shed: Celebrating Las Vegas Architecture, Design, and Culture” festival Thursday through Sunday.
Performances are scheduled for Circa’s Legacy Club and Ballroom (go to duckduckshed.com for full schedule and information). Among the sessions: “The View from Flamingo Road: How Las Vegas Mastered Modernism” at 6 p.m. Thursday; “Two Perspectives on Paul Revere Williams” at 11 a.m. Friday; “The Golden Cage: The Psychology of a Casino” at 2 p.m. Friday; “Denise Scott Brown: Reflections” by the surviving author of “Learning From Las Vegas, at 11 a.m. Saturday.
That night, the Neon Museum celebrates its 10th anniversary by honoring founding president Barbara Molasky at a gala at Jungle Palace, the longtime private residence of Siegfried & Roy.
Taken together, the festival is to celebrate the city’s history and educate visitors about Las Vegas’ distinctive architecture. The terms “duck” and “decorated shed” are used to distinguish types of hotel-casino designs.
“A decorated shed would be basically anything up and down Fremont Street, something that needs a sign in front to explain what it is and say, ‘It’s the Golden Gate versus the Golden Nugget’ Berger explains, “A good example of a canard is New York-New York, or Luxor, or Excalibur, those buildings that are constructed in such a way that they represent who they are just by their architecture themselves.”
Berger asserts that no design is preferred over another. But the historian says he had several conversations with resort executives over the past two months in the lead up to the ‘Duck Duck Shed’ event.
Some civil servants wonder whether they work in the “shed” or “duck” class (for the record, we had more luck playing “sheds” than “ducks”).
“I had a general manager who said, ‘Oh my God, I used to work at a duck. Now I work in a decorated shed. I need to build a duck as part of our future projects,” says Berger. “So it’s become kind of a mentality, how do we integrate the fact that one isn’t better than the other. It’s not necessarily better to be a duck than a shed.
The sessions go much further than this history and this comparison. Berger says guests should be especially enthralled by “The Gilded Cage” session. The architects who designed modern Vegas resorts talk about the evolution of operators who simply didn’t hang the clocks or install the windows, and offered 99-cent shrimp cocktails to nab patrons at the casino.
“It’s the idea of what’s designed to keep you there,” Berger says. “You are in this very luxurious and beautiful place, in some cases, and you cannot leave. So let it be the Michelin starred restaurant. Or, what was once the topless dancers at “Lido” is now Katy Perry at Resorts World. What are the things that keep people in the Cosmopolitan and don’t let themselves be drawn to Paris or the Bellagio? Or one of the other properties that are so close in one direction? »
After more than half an hour, Berger just seems to be warming up. “We could go on for hours on this topic. The heart of what we’re talking about is the things that are unique to Las Vegas.
New location alert
Discover Coop’s Cabaret & Hot Spot at the Mall. This place will be hot – hot, I tell you! The new venue occupies where The Nevada Room operated for approximately 15 months before closing in August.
Expect Coop’s to open Dec. 1 (if not earlier) for lunch shows until it receives its liquor license in January. Then it will function as a full supper club. Hospitality professional Chris Cooper, who trained in the hotel management program at the University of San Francisco, is the new owner of the place. There’s a new sound system, a new design, a new operations team being installed.
We’re optimistic that many artists whose shows were cut when Nevada Room closed will have a new place to play. Singer and promoter Julien Miranda reserves the acts. Bobby Watson, who helped build the original Nevada Hall and also Sky Dee Miles’ shows at the Ghostbar, working his magic there. More information on this company to come.
Rockin’ the chest
American rejections were scheduled to perform an uncovered pop-up show Saturday night at SoulBelly BBQ in the Arts District. Leader Tyson Ritter caught the SoulBelly Chef by Bruce Kalman band at the venue last fall and eventually joined the act on stage. Kalman and Ritter became friends, leading up to the event on Saturday, which was also announced on Saturday.
Beverly Rogers is the first guest seated at the Beverly Theater in downtown Las Vegas. There was no show for the event on Tuesday, as Beverly’s creative director Kip Kelly snapped some shots of Rogers occupying one of the theater’s 146 seats. The colors are variations of bright reds. Kelly said there was a lot of discussion and planning about “color, style, fabric, size, shape and function.” I remember the president of the Smith Center Myron Martin saying much the same thing years ago when deciding seats for Reynolds Hall. It’s time well spent.
Lily Arce had to sing with Jen Romas’ “Exxite” Revue on Saturday nights at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. Arce sings with David Perrico and the Raiders House Band on Sunday.
cool hang alert
“The Showman” with the tireless Frankie Scinta, plays at the Italian American Club Showroom at 6:30 p.m. (dinner) and 8 p.m. (show) Thursday. Scinta recently sold out for a weekend at the South Point Showroom and is a delight to see, every time. Go to iacvegas.com for info.
John Katsilometes’ column airs daily in Section A. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected] Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.