Artist Graham Knuttel and Students From Las Vegas Academy Of The Arts Paint on Canvas For Downtown Mural

Art students, world-renowned figurative painter collaborating on massive piece that will be permanently installed on the Neonopolis building on the Fremont Street Experience

Photos by Jackie Brett

Graham Knuttel talking to students and teacher

The planning, the strategy, the creative brainstorming and the deliberations about colors and design have all been sounded out between young art students from the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts and Graham Knuttel, the highly acclaimed figurative painter.

Knuttel and the students began work on their huge downtown mural at 7 a.m. at Las Vegas Academy, 315 South 7th St. on April 21.

Knuttel, Ireland’s most successful living artist, is producing one of his largest works ever, which will be permanently displayed on the southeastern corner of the iconic Neonopolis building that faces Fremont Street East at Las Vegas Boulevard.

“Painting is so often a lonely calling, but this project is different,” Knuttel said. “Of all the works I’ve ever undertaken, I’ve never felt more inspired to see these kids and listen to their thoughts and exchange ideas with them about art. This is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Knuttel first proposed the idea for the high-profile mural after visiting downtown Las Vegas last fall for the Life is Beautiful Festival and becoming enchanted by the Las Vegas Arts District.

“Downtown Las Vegas feels so real to me, like a second home,” Knuttel said. “I knew I wanted to become involved in the scene, and I couldn’t wait to get started. When I learned this world-class school was just a couple of blocks away, I knew I had to include these gifted young students.”

Graham Knuttel sketching out muralAnita Ward, marketing and foundation director at Las Vegas Academy, said the students and Knuttel hit it off immediately.

“Art students all over the country are studying Graham Knuttel’s work,” Ward said. “He truly is one of the most gifted artists of our time. Here at LVA, our students are actually sitting with him, having lunch with him, and having discussions about art with him. Everyone here is so excited about his visit and the fact he is going to be doing his painting right here on campus.”

Rohit Joshi, the owner of Neonopolis, was ecstatic about the mural proposal.

“I love Graham Knuttel’s work, and as soon as I heard he wanted to do a mural downtown, I insisted it be at Neonopolis.  I told him to paint the whole building! Our tenants are elated,” Joshi said. “This is yet another part of the feeling of new energy that is emerging downtown.”

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Knuttel and the LVA students plan to work at the school for two weeks to create a painting that will be 4 feet by 8 feet in size. That painting will then be screened and vastly enlarged into the huge piece that will be affixed to the wall of Neonopolis.

Neonopolis Wall for Graham Knuttel - Art Students MuralIn honor of the kickoff to the mural and Knuttel’s contribution to the downtown scene, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman has named April 21, Graham Knuttel Day in Las Vegas.

Knuttel, a native of Dublin who originally rose to fame in the art world as a sculptor before transitioning to painting, opened the Knuttel Gallery at the Venetian-Palazzo Resort last year.  Knuttel established a presence in Las Vegas at the urging of Victor Chaltiel, a Summerlin venture capitalist who has collected Knuttel’s work for the past 30 years. Chaltiel felt that Knuttel’s distinctive style—marked by bold strokes, vivid colors and evocative characters—in many ways epitomizes the essence of Las Vegas.

Prints of the completed mural will be available for sale at the Knuttel Gallery, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Friends of Las Vegas Academy. Las Vegas Academy  is a nationally recognized, award-winning magnet high school, dedicated to education in performing and visual arts and serving approximately 1,700 students in Clark County, Nevada. The academy is a public school located in the center of the Las Vegas Historical District and serves students in grades 9 through 12. LVA is a five-star, high-achieving, and exemplary academic school of distinction offering major courses of study in the performing arts along with rigorous academic courses.

Knuttel Gallery, Graham Knuttel’s international gallery, has made its inaugural venture in Las Vegas as a result of the city’s growing art scene. In order to bring Knuttel to Las Vegas, Redhills Ventures LLC, a leading local private investment vehicle, committed its financial resources and successful management experience to opening the high-end gallery that is dedicated exclusively to Knuttel’s artwork. The Knuttel Gallery of Las Vegas promises to be a leading art center of imagination and inspiration. For more information, call (702) 228-8808 or visit www.knuttel.com.

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