LAS VEGAS — Circling the streets of Las Vegas in early 2022, you may have spotted a series of complex lines of thread arranged in strict, geometric shapes in fences across the city. Moving too fast on your commute, looking out of the corner of your eye one second too late, and you might miss them. Like illusion drawings from childhood, the pieces reveal themselves only when approaching their canvas straight on. The long segments of thread comprise large, slanted block letters. Focusing your eyes at just the right distance, the words become clear.
“MORTGAGE” is placed on a fence, only steps away from the tourist hotspot the Freemont Street Experience; “FAKE IT,” with the iconic Vegas stratosphere in the background; “EMPTY,” on a pedestrian bridge above an aqueduct; “ELDERS,” on a street corner by a freeway underpass; and “CREDIT,” on a nondescript fence, a row of casinos not too far behind.
These yarn phrases are the work of installation artist Eric Rieger, who goes by the name HOTTEA, whose previous yarn work includes massive installation pieces like “The Collector” (2015), a collaboration with Sesame Street, and pieces on the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Minneapolis — HOTTEA’s hometown. The yarn pieces in Las Vegas are a mere side effect of HOTTEA spending his birthday celebrating in the city in December of 2021.
More than a year later, HOTTEA’s words have blended into the Las Vegas landscape. The pieces remain in place, their mystery alive and well. Showing the wear and tear of a summer in extreme heat, some lengths of string have changed colors, some have shredded to bits.
The myth of HOTTEA begins in the mid-2000s, when the artist spent time in jail for graffiti. In interviews, HOTTEA describes how he sought to no longer be an anonymous artist, painting at night to keep his work a secret from his family. Yarn was an antidote, a way to be vulnerable. We see it in HOTTEA’s Las Vegas pieces — as light and landscape seep through the yarn, distorting the surrounding space little by little, yarn becomes what HOTTEA describes as a beautifully elaborate, yet simple, presence.
In Las Vegas, art hides away in casino hallways, in tourist-oriented interactive exhibitions, murals commissioned by massive music festivals, and decorated freeway intersections. The local art scene is up and thriving, seeking to exist beyond these boundaries. Without institutional support, individual artists have created pop-up gallery spaces in industrial buildings and suburban homes. In these spaces, any kind of artist, whether early in their career or established, is welcome.
HOTTEA’s practice shows that artists here in Las Vegas can, and do, engage with the framework of this city in enticing new ways with any materials — yarn, spray paint, fabric. The work exists here. Perhaps we need only a moment to take notice.
Goya’s Coded Love Letter to the Duchess of Alba
Goya neatly clothes himself in his own world of fantasy: He will have her in the end. In life, where the climate is much chillier, it was, alas, to be otherwise.
Witches Take Over Westchester
Bowen’s multimedia art is an alchemical mix of the sensuous and arcane, and it is more than a little witchy.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
14 Art Books and Catalogues We’re Reading This Month
Anthologies and catalogues on feminist art in Latin America, Native mound building, Armenian photography, and more are on our reading list.
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.