Thursday, July 29, 2021

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS | JOHN TRIMBLE

All Hail The Queen

The Queen of the Arts sculpture revealed
John Trimble, member of the Las Vegas Arts Commission Board

What’s your involvement with making the “Queen of the Arts” a reality for the Historic Westside? 

I am a commissioner of Arts for the City of Las Vegas under Ward 5, which includes the Historic Westside. I was the commissioner who proposed that a sign or landmark be placed outside of the West Las Vegas Arts Center — after driving by, multiple times, without being able to identify the parking lot entrance.

What are the responsibilities of the Las Vegas Arts Commission? 

The Las Vegas Arts Commission monitors the City of Las Vegas as far as new locations to place art and beautification. We make proposals and fund artists to put art in the city. We decide where the art goes and what comes down. That includes statues throughout the city. If you see colorful, artistic murals on electrical boxes, those are projects we work on.

So does the commission fund the artists to paint on the electrical boxes? 

Oh yes! We call the painted electrical boxes around the city “The Amp Project.” It is to help with beautification of the city — who wants to look at an ugly power box when you can paint it? We commission artists and call for proposals and submissions from painters to paint the electrical boxes and maintain them. We sent out the same call for artists to submit idea designs for the arts center.

Who designed and made “Queen of the Arts?” 

It was a married couple, Gus and Lena Ocamposilva. Initially, we asked for some kind of artistic signage to go in front of the Las Vegas Arts Center. Then the ideas grew into two sculptures. There were a lot of artists who responded to the public notification to submit their proposal from all over the country. I personally went through 20 submissions.

How would you describe the sculptures? 

It’s actually two Black women facing each other. It’s really beautiful. On the headdress of one of the sculptures you can see images that reflect the arts center — such as a man playing a horn, a woman dancing, and a ballerina. On the second headdress on the other sculpture you can see a Sankofa bird. The colors are burgundy and red with gold accents. Each sculpture stands 14 to 15 feet high and stands at the entrance of the Las Vegas Arts Center. You can’t miss them. They are stunning. The photos are great, but to see the sculptures is amazing.

Are the sculptors who designed the landmark Black artists? 

No, they are Latino. We asked everybody to make submissions that fit the mold for what we were looking for and Gus and Lena submitted the winning design. We never initially know the race of any of the artists who made submissions. Everyone was judged on just the submitted artistic designs. 

Why did the artists decide to design two women sculptures? 

I did get some insight as to, “Why weren’t the sculptures a man and a woman?” And some of us as commissioners asked if it could be a man and a woman. But with the budget and time that we had, it wasn’t enough to make another mold of a man and change up the art piece. 

What was the budget for the “Queen of the Arts” sculptures? 

The statues alone were about $75,000. That does not include shipping. There were costs for permits, the work to put the sculptures up and into a foundation — all of that.

What is the significance of two women facing each other? 

They represent the regal black woman, along with the symbolic message of motherhood and culture.

Is there a time limit on how long the sculptures will stand? 

No time limit. It’s for the people to enjoy.

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