March 7, 2012

Stroll through Monet’s ‘Impressions of Light’

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Travel at 6:18 pm by dinaheng

The Bellagio Las Vegas is known for many things, such as its dancing water fountain show, gourmet dining, and high end casino gaming featured in the 2001 remake of “Ocean’s Eleven.”

What many visitors may not realize is that the art gallery in the movie actually exists at the resort, as well. A hidden treasure that would delight any art afficionado, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art lies down a corridor past the guest rooms and shops, offering a peaceful respite from the sound of slot machine trills and roulette wheels.

The current exhibition, “Claude Monet…Impressions of Light,” features 20 works by the famous French impressionist, along with eight other paintings by Monet’s predecessors and contemporaries, including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Camille Pissarro, Eugene Louis Boudin, Constant Troyon, Charles Francois Daubigny, and Paul Signac (a neo-Impressionist whose Pointillist style followed Impressionism).

The 11-month show, organized in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will be on display until Jan. 6, 2013.

“We’re getting an overwhelming response to this exhibition,” says Tarissa Tiberti, director of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. “The past couple of shows have been summaries of the figure and landscape. I thought this would be a good time to go deeper into Impressionism. The whole show is dedicated to one genre. It’s also a bit more what visitors are used to seeing.”

The gallery space is small and can be toured in less than half an hour, but the exhibition is nicely mounted, and visitors can take a self-guided tour with audio wands that are included in the price of admission. A docent-led tour is also offered daily at 2 p.m.

The $15 general admission fee seems excessive, given that admissions to entire art museums across the country are comparable in price, or slightly higher. But since gaming revenue isn’t what it used to be, ancillary casino attractions are clearly expected to help make up the difference.

The paintings in this exhibit span four decades of Monet’s career, and include many of his most recognized works, including “Camille Monet and a Child in the Artist’s Garden in Argenteuil,” 1875 and “Charring Cross Bridge (Overcast Day),” 1900.

Monet’s words on one wall of the gallery reveal a perspective that could be said of life itself: “For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life, the air and the light, which vary continually… For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere that gives subjects their true value.”

For those who would like to have a more interactive conversation about the exhibition, the gallery offers “Art & Wine” talks every second Wednesday of the month.

“Jason Smith, the master sommelier and wine director at the Bellagio, pairs wines — and possibly champagnes — with the artwork,” explains Tiberti. “He will talk about the wine selections, and I talk about the artwork.

Tiberti says the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is the only fine art museum in a casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

“Thirteen percent of our visitors are locals, and the rest are tourists who come from all over,” she notes. “We provide a unique, intimate viewing experience. It’s a chance to get away from the casinos, and provides a different kind of entertainment. It’s different from the norm of what you expect to see in Vegas.”

Hours of admission are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with last admission at 7:30 p.m . General admission, $15; Nevada residents, $12; Wednesday Locals Night from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. ($8 admission with valid Nevada ID); Seniors 65 and older, $12; Students/Teachers/Military, $10; Children 12 and Under, free.

For more information, call (702) 693-7870, or check out http://www.bellagio.com/attractions/gallery-of-fine-art.aspx on the Internet.

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