Exhibit Featuring Local Vehicle Accidents Opens
Destruction prompts construction in Fred Mitchell’s new Rotunda Gallery exhibit, “Photographs with Sculptural Tendencies.” Photos of Las Vegas-area vehicular collision sites are printed and reconstructed into three-dimensional forms.
The artist begins by sensitively photographing the residue of accidents on Las Vegas roadways after the victims and automobiles are no longer present. All that remains are the marks, skids and blemishes like accidental drawings on and along the street. By capturing only the image of the vestiges, the artist is able to still capture the compelling nature of these all-too-frequent and devastating mistakes without exploiting the persons involved or sensationalizing the crash.
The images are then manipulated digitally and physically to accentuate and/or compliment the mistakes. Working with a metal shop specializing in automobile manufacturing, the artist warps and bends the photographs printed on metal to give depth, form, and shape to a formerly two-dimensional plane.
The ultimate result will be several large-scale objects resembling familiar wreckage from around the city, recreated and reinterpreted as deformed photographic sculptures.
The exhibit, which opens Monday and appears through May 24, is being recognized by the County Commission at its meeting Tuesday, April 2 at 9:15 a.m., where the artist will accept a proclamation for his work. The Commission also will declare April “Auto Safety Month.” The proclamation will be presented by Commissioner Susan Brager, who was once the victim of a devastating accident involving a drunk driver.
“I applaud Mr. Mitchell, and I hope that the exhibit will help focus community attention on the need to improve traffic safety and safe driving behavior at a time when so many Clark County residents are needlessly injured and killed on our roadways,” Brager said.
"It is my hope,” said Mitchell, “that this exhibition promotes awareness in the viewers, so that they may more closely consider their relationships, environment, and society. My aim is to create objects that stimulate and arouse questions with the viewers. In conjunction with the proclamation for Auto Safety Awareness we may make a safer Nevada."
Automobile and traffic safety are an ongoing concern, given the high number of accidents in Clark County, including nearly 4,500 collisions, almost 2,000 injuries and 26 fatalities in 2013 (through March 12 in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s jurisdiction), Brager said.
Mitchell became interested in crash sites because for about three months while studying at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he drove past an odd scene. It was a car that had driven through a lawn and crashed through the brick wall of a home. The car was left abandoned at the scene of the accident.
After some time while working on this series, it occurred to Mitchell why he was drawn to this subject. Before he began the series, a cousin had been in an automobile accident. The cousin was 16 at the time and had been drinking at a party. He crashed and the passenger of his car was killed. The cousin was then incarcerated for two years.
Mitchell’s exhibit appears at the Rotunda Gallery at the Clark County Government Center at 500 S. Grand Central Parkway in downtown Las Vegas. It is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except holidays, and there is no cost to view the exhibits there.
There will be a free reception for the artist on Thursday, April 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. with a presentation by the artist at 6:30 p.m. in the Clark County Government Center’s first-floor Pueblo Room. The public is invited. The exhibit also will be open on First Friday April 5 and May 3 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is a free shuttle on First Friday with parking at the Government Center.
Mitchell is a visual artist and educator with a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a master of fine arts degree from UNLV. Some of his most recent solo Las Vegas exhibits include “Tangents” at 5th Wall Gallery, “Road Test” at Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery and “You Can’t Go! All the Plants Are Going to Die!” at Grant Hall Art Gallery.
For more information, contact (702) 455-7340 or visit www.clarkcountynv.gov/parks. Clark County and the Parks and Recreation Department, where the Cultural Arts Division is housed, also may be found on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 12th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 42 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 8th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The county also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.