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When I began checking out Las Vegas galleries in the mid 1990s, I didn’t make enough money to put local art on my walls. (I barely made enough to have walls.) And it was 10 years before I had a camera on my phone, 15 before I had a good one. So when I visited the library galleries or the Contemporary Arts Collective and found an appreciation for works by the likes of James Stanford or Diane Bush, I had to log them away in my memory and hope that they stayed there.

In that regard, times have changed for the better. I can now afford to invest in art. And if I want to linger over the works of Stanford or Bush, I can look at the recent books the two distinctive local artists have published. I could even give them away as gifts, as I recommend that you do.

James Stanford’s 264-page book Shimmering Zen ($60, available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon) is an outgrowth of the artist’s drive to create mandalas—geometric patterns, inspired by Stanford’s practice of Buddhism—assembled from Vegas’ neon signs both past and present. These shimmering mandalas spill out of Stanford as easily as language; his house is filled with them, and a bunch of his best works are hanging through December 8 at the Sahara West Library gallery (which is, honestly, where you should go first; the lenticular pieces alone are worth the trip.) The book presents these mandalas at the size of record sleeves, big enough to allow you to stare deeply into the details (in many of them, you can spot individual light bulbs) or for them to wash over you in a kaleidoscopic swirl. It’s like looking at maps of galaxies, with golden horseshoes and pink flamingos in place of galaxies and nebulae.

Diane Bush’s The Brits: England in the 1970s (approximately $8 plus international shipping, might be a slighter read at only 28 pages, but it’s no less gripping and immediate. Comprising black-and-white photographs Bush took after emigrating to the United Kingdom in protest of the Vietnam War, The Brits is a fascinating document of a bygone street life. In some photos, you can feel the tumult of the early 1970s crowding in on the edges, drawing the air out of the frame (particularly in one shot where a chained performance artists stares defiantly at the viewer); in others, dancers waltz and men exult in pubs, reminding us that life goes on even if we’re convinced otherwise. A second volume, More Brits, will be released in December.

By the way: Bush notes thatThe Britsis now part of the permanent collection at England’s Tate galleries and at the MoMA in New York City. And Stanford debutedShimmering Zenin London. If you’re a young art collector who wants to own work of international renown, put these books on your gift lists. > Read More

James Stanford: Author of Shimmering Zen | Seattle Book Review


This October, photographer and digital artist James Stanford presents the North American launch of his monograph, Shimmering Zen.

Published in a large hardback format, Shimmering Zen is a compilation of digital montages that Stanford has created by layering original photographs of LasVegas landmarks and its iconic neon signs. The monograph presents Stanford’s designs alongside original photographs, elaborating through artist essays on the theory and practice behind his technique.

Heavily influenced by his native Las Vegas, where he is regarded as a leader and pioneer in the ar ts community, Stanford is an innovative digital artist who revisits the vibrant energy of vintage Vegas. A digital painter who transforms his iconic photographs of Las Vegas neon signs and architecture into sumptuous mandalas.

Shimmering Zen reflects Stanford’s continued interest in transforming reality into imagined realms. As an artist, he is concerned with the development of a visual expression of spirituality. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Buddhism, he conceives of his digital montages as “modern mandalas” – maps towards inner zen. > Read More

Soul Impact: Mesmerizing Neon Mandalas | Beautiful Now

Awaz (Detail)

Awaz (Detail)

Decoration has soul. While it’s focused on the surface of things, its purpose is to elevate, to embellish the physical and, on some level, the spiritual qualities of whatever it is adorning.

Artist James Stanford creates decorative art by repurposing vintage decorative neon signs found in Las Vegas.

His edition photomontage series, “Indra’s Jewels,” includes a group of digitally reinvented mosaics of patterns that are at once decorative and contemplative. The vibrant images are reminiscent of physics-like models of space, but also have an immaterial, spiritual quality, evoking the artist’s strong connection to Zen Buddhism.

> Read More