The Bright (Neon) Lights of the Desert


Beyond the bright lights and frantic pace of the Las Vegas Strip, the iconic art history of the city is being preserved. Founded in 1996, the Neon Museum is a non-profit organization "dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs." 

We went to visit the Neon Museum and got a crash course in the iconic signs of Las Vegas and their artists. After all, what is Las Vegas without its bright, flashy signs? One artist highlighted in the museum's collection of 150 signs is Betty Willis. Willis (a graphic designer who didn't retire until the age of 77) is well known for designing the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign. The sign was created in 1959 and was Willis' "gift to the city". She never trademarked the design. While that sign still stands on the boulevard, Willis' "Moulin Rouge" sign lies in the Neon's Museum outdoor "boneyard". 

The Neon Museum is truly a hidden jem out in the desert. Its also a photographer's dream! We took the day tour, but highly recommend the night tour when the signs light up the sky. Also, the 100F daytime heat is not for the weak of heart. For this San Franciscan transplant who grew up in the snowbanks of Canada, a cold bottle of water made for a great companion during the tour.

To learn more about the museum and book a tour, check out their website here>>.




Cristina Otero's Edible Self-Portrait

Cristina Otero, 17, was standing in her kitchen in Galicia, Spain when she was inspired to do a self-portrait series. "I've always loved eating fruit. One day I was eating an orange and I decided to take a photo with it." Soon she found herself taking photos with all the fruit she could find. Soon her photo series "Tutti Fruttiu" (which translates to "all fruits" in Italian) was born. While completing the series, she asked herself "If this fruit was human, what would it's personality be?". With this thought, she portrayed each fruit as a separate character using makeup and facial expressions.

Otero discovered her love for photography when a friend introduced her to "America's Next Top Model". "To me, all of that was fascinating, everything. The poses, the lighting and the makeup" Today Otero draws inspiration from the world around her. "Everything inspires me. I know it sounds clinché, but its true. Inspiration is everything, everyone and everywhere. You just have to pay a little attention. For example, as I'm answering your questions, I'm thinking about a photograph portraying a writer. If inspiration doesn't come, why not make a photograph portraying the lack of inspiration?" 

Her advice to aspiring artists is simple and honest. "Many artists are scared to show their art to the world. If you enjoy doing what you love, who cares [what others think]? There are millions of people with different perspectives and opinions. Your art will be loved! Work on your flaws and experiment. Never lose the creativity and eagerness that made you start in the first place". Up next for Otero is a new series entitled "The Forgotten" where she represents "mythological creatures in their environments".  

To see more of Otero's work, check out her Facebook page >here<.

Tutti Frutti