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Robert Mars’ portrait of old Las Vegas

This insightful and striking series of artwork by Robert Mars looks at an ‘old Las Vegas that is being replaced by corporate themed mega-casinos’. Of this series, he says: ‘My work is a chronicle of Americana. I am determined to capture the independent aesthetic of the not-so-distant past that has been replaced by homogenized corporate culture and standardized cityscapes. Industrial design, graphic design, architecture and vintage neon all render important roles in my work.

My paintings employ layers of color, subtly collaged printed matter from the 1950’s and 1960’s, and stark, black imagery. Remote, indistinct landscapes capture the once poetic, and now nearly lost highway strips of the American past. Formerly the promise of hope and prosperity; these icons are now a sign of desperation and ruin.

This group of work embodies the past 12 years of my experiences in and around Las Vegas. I wanted to document the fading icons of “sin city”, and in the process, capture the sexuality and decadence that pulses just under the surface of the desert oasis. The flamboyant colors that separate old and new Vegas inspired my palette. The vintage cars, timeless neon, and motor hotels became the primary images.

Las Vegas is a city of extremes. The big time winners share a green felt table with the down and desperate. Cigarettes and alcohol are common vices that fuel midnight to sunrise marathons. Daybreak brings air-conditioned tourists blinking into bleak, 120 degree waves of dry desert heat. Stark contrast is the norm.

I’ve always had a love and hate relationship with Las Vegas. Multiple two week stays over the years proved too long for a visit, but allowed me to absorb the city and all that it has to offer. I miss the vestiges of old Vegas that clung to the strip when I started visiting in 1995. The demolition of what made it great in the 50s, and transition to its current “theme park” vibe seemed to happen overnight. These works are my tribute to the old sin city. Viva Lost Vegas!

robert mars
robert mars