Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Green Felt Jungle Gym
I took advantage of the opportunity to hear UNLV Adjunct Professor Mark Brandvik speak about his current installation "Green Felt Jungle Gym" at the Rotunda Gallery in the Clark County Government Center. The title of the show is adapted from a 1963 book The Green Felt Jungle which aimed to expose the criminal underworld in Las Vegas.
Brandvik described his interest in the intersection of events and the environment. His earlier series of works "Notorious Deaths by Misadventure" were based on Las Vegas crime scenes gleaned from police reports and featured the otherwise innocuous street corner where Tupac Shakur was shot and the section of city street where jazz singer Joe Williams collapsed and died.
His 2003-2004 paintings of local buildings celebrated a particular vernacular of architecture which was not widely valued at the time, and many of the buildings featured in his works have since been demolished. Some however have been relocated, such as "La Concha" (image top left courtesy Brandvik's website).
The "Green Felt Jungle Gym' installation combines his early interest in sculpture with the clean simple lines of his architectural paintings which he described as "rising like sculptures from an isolated landscape". The installation was designed "like an Erector Set", constructed in his back yard, then deconstructed and installed in the Rotunda. Without the necessary constraints of transportation and a temporary installation, Brandvik would have chosen to create a solid welded construction allowing for interactive play.
This particular jungle gym has echoes of the Watts Towers, created by construction worker Sam Rodia over a period of 33 years, which Brandvik visited in Los Angeles. Brandvik's construction however, could only have emerged from the adult playground of Las Vegas, with it's eclectic mix of attention-seeking architecture.