JUSTKIDS brought artists from around the world to transform Downtown Las Vegas into an open-air art gallery for Life is Beautiful Festival last September. We are pleased to share with you the recap from this event as we caught up with its curator Charlotte Dutoit.
Life is Beautiful, the Downtown Las Vegas Art and Music festival, doesn’t need to prove its reputation as the hottest new event in the field with the solid tasteful music line-up brought every year since its inception in 2013. This year the roster included new pieces from Bordalo (Portugal), 1010 (Germany), Banksy (UK), Ruben Sanchez (Spain), Bikismo (Puerto Rico), Pixel Pancho (Italy), D*Face (UK), Filthy Luker & Pedro Estrellas (UK), Sbagliato (Italy), Trevor Wheatley & Cosmo Dean (Canada), Jason Woodside (USA), Stephane Malka (France) and Ana Maria (Puerto Rico) and a special guest Josh Ostrovsky, aka Instagram sensation, “The Fat Jew”.
What truly distinguish the event from its siblings, besides its unique urban atmosphere right in the vintage are of Vegas, is certainly the quality and unique setting of its art program.
Last September 25 – 27 and for the third year in a row, the festival showcased another round of major international artists and promising emerging talents whom unveiled a series of brand new large-scale murals, street installations and interactive experiences using new mediums in the Street Art genre.
On display for this edition curated by Charlotte Dutoit of JUSTKIDS, an eclectic selection of critically acclaimed muralists, installation artists, surprising designers and talented young architects. Far from the traditional mural festivals that are taking place all over the world, the end-result was a complete bombshell for the festivalgoers which enjoyed a series of exhilarating artworks.
Shiny flowery floating messages, gigantic Godzilla-like inflatables of Zombified Hello-Kitty and Undead Snoopy, a massive green octopus on rampage bursting out of an abandoned motel, a colony of Meerkats built entirely with trash and found-materials or large murals creating optical illusions were some of the gems created for the event.
And as good things come in pairs, all these murals and most of the installations will stay permanently in the streets of Downtown Las Vegas, adding new big names to the exhaustive existing collection started 3 years ago through the festival and continuing to transform the neighborhood with a brand new and unique energy.
Julie: How Justkids’ journey as a curator of the street art program at life is beautiful festival started?
Charlotte Dutoit: It started 3 years ago actually when the growth and redevelopment of East downtown Las Vegas was just starting. There were not so many things happening at that time beside the classic Downtown Casinos, a couple of bars and lots of constructions but there was a really good energy and spirit, you could feel that something bigger was burgeoning.
Life Is beautiful was doing this very ambitious Music festival compiling it with Arts, Food and Learning components. They contacted me to do one or two murals on some abandoned vintage Motels. I immediately loved the idea and even wanted to do more so I took my chance after visiting the site, proposed them to do 15 and they loved the idea. They are real Art enthusiasts, very supportive and open minded giving us a full freedom of creation from day 1.
We are programing the Art for a festival that is punctual, 3 days in a year but on the other hand we are building a permanent outdoor gallery for DownTown. So it’s an amazing playground for a curator as it’s allow me to plan over a few years for a whole neighborhood that is booming right now.
J: How many walls in total have been produced now?
CD: Since then we did around 40 murals and 15 installations.
J: Producing such an event takes time, can you tell me how you prepare logistically ahead of this event?
CD: When an edition of Life Is Beautiful is finished we are already planning the next one so we prepare very much ahead because it’s a huge production and complicated logistic. We literally fence 15 blocks of the Downtown so not only we have to deal with the regular tasks – artists selection and relations, team recruitment and supervisions wall scouting, owners authorizations, legal aspect, financing, design, equipment, material, marketing, merch, PR etc etc – but also we have to work closely with the city on the street and road closures and all the permits because depending on these authorizations of access and dates we plan the entire schedule of the artwork production.
J: How many people are involved in your team and how do you work together?
J: Tell me a bit more about this years edition artists line up?
All photos courtesy of JUSTKIDS