Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Sojourn ~ Culture in Las Vegas. Really

Come with me as I revisit some of the interesting and beauty-filled places I've been on my travels. Of course this means the actual trips I've taken, but it might also include trips of the virtual kind, from books, to movies, to great escapes through performances I've seen.

I love Saturday... a day of rest and ease and fun (usually) for me. I hope to share a bit of that feeling with you each week.

I'm so excited about today. The temperatures here in Weldon Spring are expected to soar into the fifties, and with them, my spirits. I'm definitely heading out for a nice long walk in the sunshine.

My mighty immune system (a gift from my hardy Irish/Welsh farmer DNA) has kicked in, and my case of  Cabin Fever is no more than a sniffle. And a little sniffle is definitely NOT going to keep me indoors today.  Not only do I plan on enjoying the warm sun and a walk around the pond at City Hall, I will also treat myself today to a manicure and pedicure in anticipation of a nice dinner with the Titan of Industry tonight in celebration of Valentine's Day. Who wants to go out to dinner on a Monday night, after all?

There I go again, veering off the subject with my tangents, the subject being Culture in Las Vegas. Really.

Yes, Vegas is merely a façade in nearly all aspects of real beauty and culture. The city is home to a fake pyramid, fake Eiffel Tower, fake Venice canals, fake NYC skyline, and all manner of fake Elvis Presleys, along with all the other...ahem, fake things in that fantasy land. I will not argue that people go to Las Vegas to capture the experience of great art or culture.

But it does exist. You just have to look for it.

Disclaimer: I've been to Las Vegas several times. My #3 son and his lovely wife live and work there. Camille works for the corporate offices of MGM, which owns seventeen resort hotels in Vegas, as well as the new City Center. Though Las Vegas is not a city of choice for my husband and me, we have found great food, beautiful nature preserves, and yes, even some culture where we've least expected it. Right in the heart of the Vegas strip. (er, no...not that strip. I refer to the street that passes from one end of the downtown area to the other.)

 You've heard of the Bellagio Hotel, right? It's the one with the garish dancing fountains, which play relentlessly periodically throughout the day and night. The fountains themselves are an incredible display of engineering, and worth seeing, especially from the outdoor patio of the delightful French restaurant directly across the street, Mon Amie Gabi. But culture?  Well, one song included in the fountain display is Andrea Bocelli's rendition of  "Con Te Partiro," which barely qualifies, but I'll take it.

Okay, but back to real culture. I have to give credit where credit is due.  In addition to the dancing fountains display, the Bellagio is also home to some pretty impressive art. The ceiling of the lobby is one immense work of art, a bouquet of glass flowers by controversial Washington artist Dale Chihuly (check him out HERE).

A gallery within the Bellagio is full of everything from original impressionist work by August Renoir, to a staggeringly beautiful life sized bronze sculpture of Rudolph Nureyev, as well as other dancers and performers, by Richard MacDonald (check him out HERE).

It also is home to the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens which employs a mere 140 full time horticulturists to create and maintain some truly impressive displays throughout each season.

So, know that if you ever find yourself in Las Vegas (I do hope you don't just wake up one morning and "find yourself" there), just know that you can find some real beauty and culture there. Here's a walk through the Bellagio Hotel.

Bellagio Hotel - Las Vegas

Lobby ceiling, Bellagio - standing directly under the display

Outside the art gallery

Nureyev in all his glory

Atrium ceiling in Botanical Garden

Massive sculptures (each weighing more than a ton) made of boiled, woven willow branches

From the Orchid House

More from the Orchid House

An 898 pound pumpkin...I guess you could say that most melons are oversized in Vegas

Fantasy fall creatures...
see person watering the display on the right for scale

Today, I hope you find great art in unexpected places.

Of course, you'll have to imagine the torrents of water streaming to the music, but here is Andrea Bocelli's "Con Te Partiro" (Time to Say Goodbye). Enjoy!


  1. jo - it's an extraordinary place. what really blows me away though is the glass sculpture ceiling by one of my favourite artists - dale chihuly. google his name for images and prepare to be amazed. steven

  2. Jo, thank you for posting this. I've been to Vegas many times but have never visited the Bellagio. After reading this, I will be sure to visit my next time as I so enjoy the culture you mention.

  3. Jo, you need to be the poster child for visiting Vegas! Contact the PR people and I guarantee you will be hired. Thanks for this and the beautiful music and pics...

    oxoxoxoxooxxooxoxLove coming your way!

  4. Steven, I'm so glad you liked it! I'm very familiar with Chihuly and his work. I own an enormous coffee table book filled with his work, and one of my favorite places in St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden, is filled with outdoor glass sculptures and indoor chandeliers by him.

    Have a great weekend.

  5. Hello, Michelle! Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. Let me know what you discover on your next trip to Vegas!

  6. Thank you, Vicki! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm already busy being the poster child for overworked grandmas though, so I'll have to skip the second job!


  7. Only you could make Las Vegas seem classy. Damn you are good.

    GREAT pics.

  8. Ha! Reya, you are SO funny! Thanks for the comment.


  9. Some great meals to be had there too. Maybe we'll meet visiting our kids sometime!

  10. That would actually be a blast, Dubby! We should plan that.

    As I said in the post, we've found great food in Vegas. Not just in the fancy-schmancy restaurants, but in the outlying areas, too. Our favorite place to explore is in Henderson, just outside of Vegas. We've found fabulous BBQ there (for the carnivore in us), and a fabulous Irish pub, among others.

    Have a great Sunday, Dubby. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Truly I do enjoy Vegas. We toured all the Fakes and envisioned we had just gone around the world! LOL And we DID love the Bellagio! I was always moved by the music and water together. So POWERFUL! Love your posts! They make me feel so cultured! Is that another "vicarious experience"? LOL

  12. Hello Patty! I'm so glad to know you've been enjoying the blog.

    One more thing to love about the Bellagio (and most of the MGM properties) is their approach to the environment. They're part of the Green Conservancy (I think that 's the name of it) and are leading the way in terms of eco-friendly building and conservation methods.

    Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment, Patty. I love the feedback! :-)

  13. Beautiful, just beautiful! And it is wonderful to know there are Green Conservancy efforts happening in Vegas! I enjoyed the birthday girl's comment.. lol. =D Saturday Sojourn works for me, thank you Jo! A little warm Vegas sunshine is welcome in Toronto anytime!!!

  14. Thank you, Linda! I'm afraid all of us from Missouri northward still have a bit of winter left to deal with.

    I'm glad you're enjoying the sojourns. When it's hot and sticky here in Missouri this summer, you can bet I'll be reliving this most picturesque winter!

    Good to hear from you, Linda. xoxo


Your visit makes my heart smile. Thank you.