Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Artist’s burning desire coming closer to reality

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Life Cube, a Burning Man art piece, is burned at the 2013 festival.

The Life Cube

Scott Cohen Launch slideshow »

Scott Cohen just received a shipment of 22,000 pounds of wood.

Now the real work begins on Life Cube, Cohen’s vision-turned-reality to build a 24-by-24-foot cube, and dozens more 8-by-8-foot cubes, fill them with the wishes of thousands of people, then burn them in a downtown parking lot.

Cohen, who burned his first smaller cube three years ago at the annual Burning Man festival in Northern Nevada, outlined the concept of his first urban Life Cube to members of the Las Vegas Arts Commission at their meeting Thursday.

“I’m getting to see a dream come true,” Cohen began.

Cohen said he is working with all the various city departments to gain approval for the project, which would burn in the parking lot recently constructed by Downtown Project between Ninth and 10th streets on Fremont Street, just north of The Atomic bar.

The 56-year-old former television marketing executive said the idea for the cube came from his own practice, begun at an early age, to write down “wishes.” He noticed that when he wrote down ideas, they stuck in his mind and many times became reality.

With Life Cube, he will have people write their wishes on postcards – “wish sticks” – put them into the cube, and then burned. Since The Sun wrote about his idea in November, he said, interest has blossomed throughout Las Vegas. While originally thinking he would have to build a dozen 8-by-8 “satellite cubes” –painted by local artists and placed in schools or businesses – the number has grown to about 25.

Construction will begin soon on the cubes. The main cube on Fremont Street will be done and open to the public on Feb. 21. Plans are for it to burn March 21, the third Friday of the month. Cohen said some 800 people have already donated to this project and he expects thousands of people to attend.

This is the first time Cohen will have attempted this feat in an urban setting, but he said other city leaders are already asking him to do the same for them.

He stressed Life Cube isn’t seeking sponsors.

“There’s no money here, I’m not getting paid,” he said. “I’m paying for my own travel back and forth from New York. This is just a dream come true. I want to help change the world, and this is my way of doing it.”

Commission Chairman Stephen Grogan said the unique project “encourages art and artists … and the philosophy of sending out wishes.”

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