Due to COVID-19, Area15 postponed its opening date from February to Sept. 17. The development will feature retail, eateries, and art installations, including Art Island—a free, open-air gallery of festival-style art by artists around the globe. 

Art Island features an eclectic array of sculptures like a massive owl, a half-buried robot, and an archway of iridescent lights. Potential clients can purchase the artwork or commission original artwork from the artists. 

Giant Disco by Ivan McClean is among the large artworks at Art Island, a sculpture park outside of Area15. Photo: Courtesy Area15.

In anticipation of the new development, I spoke with its chief creative officer, Michael Beneville, about the artwork selection process, what he hopes people get out of Area15, and what he’s most excited about. 

Selecting the artwork

“I want people to feel and know that they don’t always have to read about the art that was made in history,” said Beneville. “Sometimes they should know that they’re living in an explosion of art.”

When selecting the artwork, Beneville and team didn’t stick to an “algorithmic, scientific selection process.” Instead, they selected what made them feel something immediately. The informal process included middle-of-the-night text messages and numerous conversations. 

“A group of us was just affected by something and affected by something in the most basic and primal way,” said Beneville. “Does this really touch us? Does this knock us out when we see it? That’s the first blink moment. The first time I met this piece of art, did it make me feel better?”

Photo: Courtesy Area15

The visitor experience

Though Beneville appreciates art from the past, he also hopes that Area15 displays what’s happening now. Some of the pieces were created only months ago, something that Beneville finds amazing.

He wants to showcase feel-good and optimistic pieces. Beneville believes we’re currently living in a vibrant and dynamic time for the arts—and believes this will be evident at Area15.

Photo: Courtesy Area15

“[We’re] taking a stand towards optimism and hope and the fact that we can make a beautiful world,” said Beneville. “I think that’s something we feel at Area15—that it’s something we really need at this moment in time.”

Besides Art Island, Beneville pointed out other Area15 experiences, including Birdly Virtual Reality, a bird’s-eye view-themed racing game, Gallerie 360 in The Portal, an immersive audio and visual experience, and Haley’s Comet, an indoor suspension ride. 

Meow Wolf—a group that created an immersive multimedia experience with music, sculpture, and more—is scheduled to open inside Area15 early in 2021.

Area15 and Art Island are located at 3215 S. Rancho Drive, two miles from the Las Vegas strip. Masks and social distancing are required. For more info, visit area15.com.

Posted by Crystal Lugo

Crystal Lugo studied journalism and English writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. She enjoys writing nonfiction and poetry and dabbles in film photography. When she isn’t brainstorming or photographing, you can find her journaling or daydreaming about travel. She lives in Las Vegas with her kitten, Oliver.