Downtown Grand’s Gallery Tower debuts with an ambitious new art program

Emilee Geist

People travel to discover new horizons. But sometimes, those new worlds are right outside your hotel window. Guests in certain rooms of the Downtown Grand’s new Gallery Tower will look out to see a mystical black-and-white demi-world full of palm fronds, interior oceans, shadowed figures, peacocks, zebras and ladders that […]

People travel to discover new horizons. But sometimes, those new worlds are right outside your hotel window. Guests in certain rooms of the Downtown Grand’s new Gallery Tower will look out to see a mystical black-and-white demi-world full of palm fronds, interior oceans, shadowed figures, peacocks, zebras and ladders that lead nowhere.

If that’s not fantastical enough, peer through the in-room iPad, and that entire world springs into motion as soothing music plays. The peacock spreads its fan. The figures do yoga and climb the ladders. Tilt the screen to get different views. Look down and you might even see a tiny person moving about on the windowsill. Each room in the “Virtual Pad collection” has a different view of the enormous mural.

Artist Camila Magrane demonstrates her augmented reality experience “Transmigrations.”

Venezuelan-American multimedia artist Camila Magrane created two augmented-reality murals, the crown jewels in the Gallery Tower’s art program. The combined piece is titled “Transmigrations,” which Magrane says is the “concept of migrating from your physical self to the spirit world.”

Each mural is roughly 80-feet-by-100 feet, according to Magrane. Or, to put it in a different perspective, each mural is eight floors tall and seven hotel rooms wide. Perhaps the most literal definition of the word “transmigration” is in the location of the mural itself: Magrane’s art transformed what would otherwise be an undesirable parking garage view into a destination in and of itself.

To create “Transmigrations,” Magrane started by designing the static version of the mural, even as she kept in mind the final product. She says that she played a lot with scale, drawing both tiny and large people for the mural. With the design complete, she began creating animations of the subjects in the mural. Finally, she built an app that serves as an interview between the physical image and the animations. The “Transmigrations” app can be downloaded free to an iPhone or iPad from Apple’s app store.

Magrane’s “Transmigrations” can really only be experienced by hotel guests (unless you want to sweet talk a concierge for a sneak peek of an unoccupied room). But other pieces in the Gallery Tower’s collection are on display for all.

Austin-based muralist Josef Kristofoletti created a colorful, geometric mural that can be seen from the porte-cochere, as well as from the street. Angled bars of color (blues, greens and orange)—painted on a slatted wall—turn what would otherwise be an unsightly industrial area into a thing of inspiration and beauty.

No classic Las Vegas locale would be complete without art by James Stanford and Jerry Misko. The Downtown Grand Gallery Tower features both beloved local artists. In a nod to the location’s original casino, the Lady Luck, Misko digitally interprets the word “LUCK” in his unique, painted “neon” aesthetic. Titled “Tyche,” the piece is a triptych of three canvases decorating the entrance to the casino floor, nearest to the Gallery Tower elevators. His other piece, “You’ll Always Be Fond of Me,” adorns the living room of one of the tower suites. In Misko’s signature style, that piece spells out the word “SIN” in neon pink outline.

Clever murals in the Gallery Tower breezeways, by Kevin Barry Fine Art, feature fun phrases (such as “All bets are off”) that read differently depending on the direction from which you view them.

“Downtown Las Vegas is a celebration of life and the culmination of the good things in it,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said at the September opening event for the Gallery Tower. “And one of those things is the Downtown Grand.” That’s certainly true for the resort’s new art program.

Downtown Grand Gallery Tower 206 N. 3rd St., 702-719-5100. downtowngrand.com

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