CARSON CITY — In “Before the Neon,” Henderson painter Sy Collier uses spaces, shapes and colors that illuminate Nevada’s history and his impressions of the Silver State, before the bright lights came to the Las Vegas Strip. In a space designed to bring the work of artists to the Nevada Legislature, Collier’s works are on display Feb. 25 through March 15 at the Nevada Arts Council’s Legislative eXhibition Series gallery.
Since 1985, the gallery has provided a spotlight on the Silver State’s breadth of contemporary and folk artists during the biennial session. “The LXS Gallery engages legislators and the public in discussions about art – a topic not often referenced during daily floor sessions and committee meetings,” said Susan Boskoff, executive director of the Arts Council.
Collier said his artwork represents his continuing interest in the natural, intense colors of the desert landscape compared to the electric lights of the Strip. His goal is to share his unique life experiences and vision with the viewer—to open the windows of his world to a public that is often too busy to see. He chooses icons from his past and manipulates different shapes and colors on the canvas to express his life passages in his work.
Collier received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the city of Las Vegas Arts Commission for dedication and excellence in the Visual Arts. Born in Dallas, Texas in 1931, Collier attended Bishop College for two years. His education was interrupted by the Korean Conflict, prompting him to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. After 28 years of service, he retired, settling in Las Vegas in 1979.
Collier graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and taught for 18 years in the Clark County School District as an art educator and master teacher. Collier earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Lesley College, specializing in creative arts in learning. Collier retired from teaching in 2000 but continues to exhibit, teach private classes and conduct workshops in painting and drawing techniques.
Artists for the 2013 series were recommended by a committee made up of Rachel Armstrong, gallery technician, Sierra Arts Foundation, Sheppard Gallery, Reno; Gail Rappa, director, Great Basin College Gallery, Elko; and Vicki Richardson, director, Left of Center Gallery, Las Vegas.
Managed by the Artist Services Program of the Arts Council, LXS is in the Legislative Building, on the first floor across from the Caucus Deli, 401 S. Carson St., Carson City. It is open to the public, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, is the agency charged with ensuring that state and national funds support cultural activity and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada. In addition to providing hundreds of grants to arts and community-based organizations, schools, artists and local municipalities throughout the state, the Arts Council coordinates a variety of statewide programs and activities such as the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation competition for high-school aged students, traveling exhibits, artist residencies, workshops and cultural assessments. For more information, please visit the department’s website at nac.nevadaculture.org/.