Published Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | 5:19 p.m.
Updated Thursday, May 20, 2010 | 12:15 p.m.
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- Larry Ruvo
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We've have reached the end of the ribbon for grand-opening ceremonies at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center For Brain Health. Friday morning's news conference announcing the formal opening of the Clinic's Life Activity Center should serve as the final such event in the clinic's lengthy evolution from Frank Gehry's sketchpad to the oft-discussed medical building that stands on the parcel known today as Symphony Park.
"We're ready to roll," Center founder Larry Ruvo said in a phone interview this week. "By Monday, we will be officially open, and everything that should be working, will be working."
Cleveland Clinic President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Toby Cosgrove, Mayor Oscar Goodman, Sen. John Ensign and Ruvo Center Medical Director Dr. Randy Schiffer will be on hand for the event. Ruvo is excited about the arrival of Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, who joined the Ruvo Clinic medical staff this week. Cummings is the director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA and is known across the country for his research of brain disorders related to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
"Dr. Cummings, one of the foremost medical minds in the country, is moving to Las Vegas," Ruvo said. "That adds even more credibility to what we are attempting to achieve at the clinic, no question."
The arrival of Dr. Cummings coincides with the announcement this week that Libby Lumpkin, curator for the facility's art collection, is leaving town. But she is not leaving her post with the Ruvo Clinic. In a statement Wednesday, she said, "My husband, Dave, has resigned his position at UNLV. I am moving with him to New Mexico. I have spoken with Larry Ruvo, and plan to continue my work with the Center for Brain Health from afar."
The onetime curator of Steve Wynn's art collection at Bellagio and the director of LVAM when it shuttered in February 2009, Lumpkin has been offered a tenured position at the University of New Mexico. Hickey plans to teach art at the university in Albuquerque.
As Lumpkin's decision to leave town but not the center indicates, change and growth have been constants throughout the clinic's infancy. At the time of the groundbreaking ceremony in February 2007, the Cleveland Clinic was not yet even partnered in the project. The land it occupies has since been renamed Symphony Park. World Market Center across the street now shadows the Ruvo Clinic, along with the under-construction Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
The Gehry design, the sketches of which have been the focus of an art exhibit at the Las Vegas Art Museum (closed now, speaking of change) has not been universally appreciated. Many critics appreciate the unique, undulating design where no two windows are the same size and light beams into the Life Activity from dozens of different angles. But others say the design is aesthetically jarring, unappealing, and not reflective of Gehry's best work.
Such opinion is fine with Ruvo.
"It's like a work of art, subjective, and not everyone is going to like it," Ruvo said. "There are those who think Picasso's work is stupid. That's OK. If people are talking about it, creating controversy and conversation, that's a good thing. I used Frank Gehry's celebrity as a marketing tool, to draw attention to what happens inside the building."
The Life Activity Center is a fully functional event space that can host an assortment of events and is open for rent. Ruvo has intimated that the space might be open for a naming opportunity for some particularly moneyed donor, but no one with "a big bag of money" has stepped forward.
"We're not ruling it out, but it certainly would be available if someone wanted to participate," Ruvo said. "At this point, no one has."
Randy Jackson with Journey, classic
Randy Jackson show at Hilton?
Remember about four years ago when Randy Jackson of "American Idol" was spotted at the Las Vegas Hilton with hotel exec Ken Ciancimino? Something about a show Jackson had in mind, possibly for the Hilton Theater? I remembered that when I read a report this week about veteran actor Armand Assante and some creatively influential people spotted with Ciancimino this week. Evidently a one-man stage show is Assante's proposal, with him playing that one man.
The Jackson show concept remains alive, Ciancimino said Wednesday afternoon. The original idea remains in place: To bring a series of concerts highlighting different genres to the Hilton, with Jackson producing the show and selecting the artists.
"With Randy, it's long and it's slow, because he has so much still on his plate," Ciancimino said. "He has 'Idol,' he has his record company Dream Merchant 21. This is just one of the 10 things he's got going and is probably fifth on his priority list."
Only when "American Idol" finishes its confounding run on Fox will Jackson start planning for a future beyond the show.
"It's not a question of if, but when," Ciancimino said.
Ciancimino also said he is in talks with members of Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns to perform a weekly showcase in the theater, hopefully by year's end if it all works to everyone's satisfaction. Santa Fe was most recently at the Tropicana for a three-month run that near-capacity crowds each Monday at Tiffany Theatre. Ciancimino said he's not sure if the Santa Fe shows at the Hilton would be ticketed. He is more certain of Santa Fe's local popularity, calling them, "One of the best bands in town and a great draw."
Prima plays Vegas
Making a retro fit: Louis Prima Jr., as the name implies the son of lounge legend Louis Prima, performs at 9 p.m. Friday at Hard Rock Café on the Strip (doors at 8, bar stools around the clock). Prima is a great guy and is said to put on a lights-out show, which I've never seen ... but that will change Friday. He's got a great new band, a great young singer out of L.A. (so she must be great, right?) named Sarah Spiegel. A few hotels, including the ubiquitous Trop, are said to be interested in bringing him in for a set of old-Vegas performances. I'm reminded, too, that there is no Louis Prima Street, Drive or Boulevard in Las Vegas.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.