Photos from Las Vegas’s Sign Boneyard

Vegas, baby. Vegas. The name conjures a blur of images combining
glitz, chintz, swank, and smut, all set against that incessant
tinkety-tink, dingaling-ding casino soundtrack. But the most iconic
images of Las Vegas have always been its signs. Casinos have risen
and fallen throughout the years, and so have their signs. But, in a
show of preservationism that would make any Santa Claus Lane purist
proud, much of the classically tacky, old-school Vegas signage has
been saved, kept in a Nevada graveyard to which two intrepid local
photographers, Matt Straka and Larry Mills, recently trekked. They
showed off their collections last Thursday evening at Muddy Waters,
the eastside Haley Street gem whose storefront would be utterly
nondescript, were it not for the cool little sign that hangs above
its doorway. I arrived and said a couple of quick hellos, but was
quickly and completely sucked in by the amazing art on the walls. I
discovered that there’s something about a gigantic, gaudy sign that
was (presumably) once-upon-a-time stylish and sparkling, left to
lie on its side in the desert sand, dusty and forgotten, that makes
my heart go pitter-patter. I made mental notes, ranking the pieces
in order of my desire. This one for the office, that one for the
hallway … But then, remembering that I did have a job to do, I got
down to business. Peep first, shop later, I told myself. The crowd
was in high spirits, enjoying the company, the drinks, the grub,
and one of the first warm evenings in recent memory — and they were
absolutely enamored with the guys’ work. All of which would have
been fantastic, had I been a little quicker on the draw: By the
time I gave the prints on the wall another look, found a price
list, determined my number-one choice, located Mills, and told him
which one I wanted, I was too late. “Just sold it,” he said. Alas.
(Note to self: Always, but always, shop first. And I call myself a
woman.) I pouted for a quick moment, but then brightened. All was
not lost — there was wine and mingling to be had, and I had a good
shot of each. And besides, maybe the photograph I so adored was
never meant to be mine; maybe the crumbling walls in my office
couldn’t hold a work of such heft; maybe the lucky soul who’d
snagged it loved it more, wanted it more, needed it more than I;
maybe I should be more focused, and shouldn’t allow myself to get
caught up in frivolous shopping while I’m on the clock. Maybe, just
maybe, its unavailability was, in fact, a sign in its own right.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.