In conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the 1 October shooting, Clark County and the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center are hosting an exhibit of portraits of the 58 victims who lost their lives in the attack. The portraits were painted by artists from across the United States and around the world.
The exhibit, called "The Las Vegas Portraits Project," will be located in the Rotunda Gallery on the first floor of the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway in downtown Las Vegas. It will be displayed Monday, Sept. 17 through Oct. 19. Crosses that were put up at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign to memorialize those who died also will be displayed.
Artists and cousins Ellen Abramo of Pennsylvania and Kortney Struempf of Georgia organized the Las Vegas Portraits Project in the days after 1 October to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the shooting. As part of the effort they created a Facebook page seeking volunteer artists willing to illustrate a portrait of each person who died. Clark County, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center and the county's Parks & Recreation Department Public Art Office partnered with project organizers to curate the exhibit. The County also will host a public reception at the Government Center at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, for participating artists and families to attend. After the exhibit is over, the portraits will be given to family members.
"Our community will never forget the lives lost in the 1 October shooting or those who were injured or continue to be affected by the tragedy," said Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak. "We are honored to host this exhibition as a tribute to those who perished and to support those whose lives are forever changed."
Abramo and Struempf participated in a similar project organized to honor the 49 victims killed in the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016. Each artist selected for the Las Vegas project chose his or her portrait subject from images and biographical information that appeared in published news stories about the victims following the 1 October attack. Some of the participating artists live outside the United States in Canada and as far away as Greece and Peru. Many artists involved in the Las Vegas Portraits Project have made contact with family members of the victims during the process of creating the artwork.
"Our goal with this project is to help build a bridge of hope and healing through art, and we appreciate Clark County's partnership in this effort," Struempf said.
"When tragedy happens, I think it is important for people to know that there is still good in the world, that people do care," Abramo explained. "These portraits are meant to be gifts of healing for the families. Most people never receive a portrait of themselves from an artist. The artists who participated in this project donated their time and talents in an effort to give something back to the families of the victims."
The portraits range in size from 8 by 10 inches to a maximum of 24 by 24. They will be hung on a wall maximizing the use of natural light from the Government Center's outdoor amphitheater. The County Museum crosses will be set up nearby on tiered pedestals.
"The one-year anniversary of 1 October is a significant milestone for our community and for all those affected by the tragedy," said Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson, whose district includes the festival site where the 1 October incident occurred. "This exhibit will serve as a tribute to the 58 beautiful lives lost in the incident, and hopefully also will inspire all of us to continue to love and support each other as we cope with the sadness and loss that was inflicted upon us in one despicable act of violence."
The Las Vegas Portraits Project exhibit also will serve as an outreach effort to encourage anyone affected by 1 October to reach out to the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center to learn about its services. Throughout the exhibit period, the resilience center plans to staff a resource table in the Rotunda with volunteer counselors to help those who may be need support, or might want to seek resources through the Vegas Strong center. Hours and dates of on-site outreach staffing may vary.
Officials are reminding anyone who was present the night of the shooting or attempted to help victims to sign up for the Nevada Victims of Crime Program by Oct. 1, 2018. The program will help pay for expenses not covered by insurance such as counseling co-pays. An application for the program is available on the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center's website at www.VegasStrongRC.org. Callers also can reach the center by phone at (702) 455-AIDE (2433) locally or toll-free at 1-833-299-AIDE (2433) or by email at email@example.com. The center is located at 1524 Pinto Lane in Las Vegas an is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, excluding weekends and holidays.
"We hope the opening of this exhibit two weeks prior to the anniversary of 1 October will help get the word out to survivors everywhere that we encourage you to sign up for the Nevada Victims of Crime program even if you live outside of our state," said Clark County Commission Vice Chair Chris Giunchigliani. "We know from experts who have dealt with other violent incidents that trauma can affect people many months or even years after an incident, and we don't want any survivors to miss an opportunity for help from this program if they are eligible for it."
The Resiliency Center offers free resources and referrals to anyone impacted by 1 October including survivors, family members of victims, responders and anyone dealing with effects from the attack including hotel workers, taxi cab drivers or bystanders. Services include legal assistance through the Legal Aide Center of Southern Nevada, victim advocacy and support, grief counseling and spiritual care referrals, and technical assistance accessing online resources including FBI Victim Assistance Services for claiming personal items left behind at the 1 October concert venue. The center also has a Facebook page at: www.Facebook.com/VegasStrongResiliencyCenter.
In addition to the Las Vegas Portraits Project Exhibit, the Clark County Museum will host an exhibit from Friday, Sept. 28 to Feb. 24, 2019, of items left at temporary roadside memorials after 1 October. The exhibit, called "How We Mourned, Selected Artifacts from October 1 Memorials," will be in the Heritage Gallery of the Clark County Museum at 1830 S. Boulder Highway in Henderson. After the shooting, museum staff and volunteers collected and began cataloging thousands of objects left along Las Vegas Boulevard, at the Welcome Sign and at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Reno Street, near the Route 91 concert grounds. About 12,000 have been cataloged to date. A selection the items will make up the exhibit including flags, bears, small rosaries, artificial flowers, signs and letters, and a portion of a large Hawaiian lei that was left to promote world peace.