Our country might still be mired in pandemic-born states of social isolation, but on the walls of Core Contemporary gallery in the Historic Commercial Center District, 20 artists meet in visual conversation. The occasion? The gallery’s second annual national juried art show, Use Other Door.
“I wanted something that could be intriguing enough for artists to respond to but also broad enough in interpretation that [submissions] would be really interesting,” gallerist Nancy Good says. “It could be a physical door, something as obvious as that. Or it could be a spiritual awakening. It could be a path not taken or a dream not pursued.”
Core Contemporary is spacious enough that social distancing should be easy to maintain, and you can always call ahead to make a viewing appointment. Those who prefer to stay home can take a virtual tour of the show at corecontemporary.com.
As an artist and business owner, Good says she’s always looking for creative interpretations of the world. One way she does that is by “flipping common phrases, mundane types of signing on their head. When I was thinking about the creation of the [inaugural] juried show, I’m sure that I was looking at my ‘Use Other Door’ signs and thinking about the physical act of shifting and taking a different path. … It’s a strong enough theme that the art that will be submitted will never ever be the same from year to year.”
Along with Good, jurors included artists Omayra Amador, Sapira Cheuk and Angelina Saldana. Using Zoom and other social distancing tech, they sorted through 62 submissions to choose the 37 pieces on display.
This year’s batch of mostly Nevada-based artists interprets the theme through a variety of styles and media. Good says a sub-theme of “altered states” has emerged from this year’s pieces.
Las Vegan Diane Bush embodies both themes with three digital photography pieces (“VR Cruise 1-3”) featuring senior citizens using virtual reality headsets. In each piece, subjects have left all-too-human bodies behind to disappear into a universe of the mind. Nevada artist Linda Shaffer offers exuberant mixed-media pieces that allude to interplanetary—and perhaps interdimensional—travel. And Paula Jacoby-Garrett’s digital collages soar into the sci-fi imagination.
One of the show’s most striking pieces is “Encounter With the Shadow” by Nevadan Chad Scott. This seemingly simple pen-on-paper piece hangs in the middle of the gallery so that viewers can see both sides. Scott has used a ballpoint pen to create a flat, black rectangle that lightens toward the center, creating a ghostly presence—or perhaps portal. The intense and assumedly painstaking application of ink creates an even more ethereal purplish bleed-through presence on the other side.
“Sacred Gateway” by Nevada artist Havi Mandell echoes Scott’s organic portal shape, but Mandell does so with bright, multicolored acrylics on canvas. Nevadan Carrie Bourdeau’s “Trap Doors” is a found-object sculpture that vaguely resembles one of the metal bear traps that clamps onto a victim’s paw. The proverbial bait hanging in the center: two metal doors floating in the air, held by fishing wire.
In her “Gaze” series, Nevada artist Jung Min presents three stunning mixed-media portraits in which a woman’s face is interrupted by masking tape. Las Vegas filmmaker Shahab Zargari contributes two gritty, cinematic photographic prints: “Ominous” and “Camelot.” Both could be movie stills; they hint at a scene-setting shot, freezing in time just before the camera pans to the action. As with many pieces in this juried show, the plot remains a future mystery for the viewer to imagine.
USE OTHER DOOR Through August 15, Wednesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m., free. Core Contemporary, 900 E. Karen Ave. #D222, 702-805-1166.