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August 21, 2014

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Supporters of shuttered art museum hold fundraiser

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To benefit the shuttered Las Vegas Art Museum, design firm Gensler of Nevada hosted an art show Thursday evening featuring the work of employees, friends and family. The silent auction for the amateur work raised $1,200 for the museum. It may be a small drop, but every effort is appreciated, said museum board President Patrick Duffy.

The Las Vegas Art Museum may be closed, but that hasn't kept local art lovers from organizing a grassroots fundraiser.

It all started with the desire to start a charity art show, said interior designer Alice O'Keefe, who is also an amateur painter. She sold several of her acrylic paintings at the Thursday evening show.

More than 75 people attended the art show at Las Vegas design firm Gensler of Nevada, which raised $1,200 for the museum. Organizing this show may help keep a local cultural institution alive, O'Keefe, an Art Institute of Las Vegas graduate, said. And hopefully others will notice.

Gensler, 3883 Howard Hughes Parkway, is planning to host a charity art show every three months. The Las Vegas Art Museum was the easy choice to benefit from the show, O'Keefe said.

The art museum closed in February because of a lack of local financial support. It had no endowment, no public funding and only 1,000 members in a metropolitan area of 2 million people -- none of which bodes well for a city struggling to find its cultural identity, O'Keefe said.

"Part of it was because they are struggling right now," she said. "Las Vegas attracts a lot of people who come from other cities and they don't see the cultural aspects here. To continue to have that, we need to support the LVAM."

Although the museum is closed, it intends to reopen and the fundraisers are key in bringing it back, said Patrick Duffy, art museum board president.

"The museum is closed but the entity is alive," Duffy said. "It is every intention of the museum to reopen in the future."

But right now, this isn't a growth, or even a sustaining period, for many art institutions, he said. This donation will be put into the museum's account to build toward sustainability.

Several things were stacked up against the museum -- its location in northwest Las Vegas put it out of reach for many tourists and out of mind for most locals, he said. A growing payroll at a time when revenue was slack also didn't help. Duffy said donations such as this one show that Las Vegans do care about keeping good art accessible to all.

Despite a floundering economy, some people are still wanting to spend money on art, O'Keefe said. She learned, however, they don't want to spend much. Out of the 35 amateur pieces, ranging from photography to found-object art, 29 sold. Each piece in the silent auction had a starting bid of $25. The pieces were done by Gensler employees, friends and family, which helped to keep the cost low.

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