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ON THE SPOTLIGHT

Alentejo: Portugal’s best-kept secret
Between glamour and grit
Arts & Culture | Las Vegas

The Palms new art collection is a must-see in Las Vegas Words by Sarah Feldberg

Don’t miss artist Scott Hove’s secret installation that transforms a women’s bathroom stall into a fanciful frosted pastry. Sorry, guys, you’ll just have to see it on Instagram.

The first thing guests see when they arrive at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas is the name of the hotel spelled out in shiny faux balloons. The letters were created by artist Adam Parker Smith, and they evoke Jeff Koons à la Instagram—the top of the “P” formed by a sprinkled donut, two Champagne flutes tipped to make the “A”. So many people reach out to touch the sculpture, that Palms Creative Director Tal Cooperman finds himself scolding strangers, begging them not to touch the art.

In the midst of $620 million reinvention, art is everywhere inside the new Palms. The casino floor’s center bar is built around—and named for—“The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded),” a trisected 13-foot tiger shark stored in formaldehyde by artist Damien Hirst. A quartet of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat hang inside a private dining room at Scotch 80 steakhouse, and a giant canvas by Timothy Curtis rests in the casino cage. Cooperman has spent the last few years assembling the resort’s collection, which includes blue chip pieces pulled from Palms owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta’s private collections, works commissioned for the Las Vegas hotel, and more than 30 different artists and counting. 

Behind the front desk is a collaboration between photographer Keegan Gibbs and neon artist Olivia Steele, the words “Wish you were here!” spelled out in glowing pink script on a backdrop of vibrant blue sky. In the hallway to the hotel tower, another Damien Hirst hangs opposite a piece by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, filled with his signature cheery pop flowers. Inside nightspot Apex Social Club, overlooking the Strip skyline, a series of intricate, layered collages by artist Dustin Yellin from ghostly figures and two-headed monsters. “They look like spirits,” says Cooperman. “We used to have a big piece of his at our corporate office. I was definitely staring at it for days.”

Other works are just plain fun, like a single women’s bathroom stall decked out by artist Scott Hove to resemble a fanciful frosted pastry. We won’t spill on exactly where it is; half the fun is the finding it, the sense of the unexpected. That also holds true for a new piece outside at the porte-cochere, a life-size 1980s Lamborghini rendered in bright orange wire frame by English artist Benedict Radcliffe. “Lately that’s been the most photographed thing that we have on property,” says Cooperman, but the Palms curator isn’t out of surprises. “We have a lot of stuff coming,” he says. “This hotel will become probably the most Instagrammable hotel in the world.”

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