I-Team: County asks artist to remove work from building; exhibit didn’t meet standard

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A disagreement between the county and a Las Vegas artist is brewing.  The artist, Cory McMahon, says he was forced to remove his artwork from the Government Center.

The I-Team found out the issue is centered around an age-old debate: Art is in the eye of the beholder.

According to McMahon, he says he was commissioned by the county do an art installation piece for $750.  It was a big moment for the UNLV student.  But after he started installing his work, he was told to make changes.

“The whole thing has been a big insult to me, and I think to artists in general,” McMahon said.

“It was nothing like anything I’ve seen here in my 16 years here at the county,” said Erik Pappa, a spokesperson for Clark County.

McMahon said he made the changes, but on the next business day, he was still asked to remove his work in its entirety.

“I was a little bit taken back after they had told me to edit the show and try to accommodate their suggestions and that that could hopefully save the show from being removed,” McMahon said. 

McMahon said his original plan was to put his belongings in the center of the rotunda before displaying a plaque, but he said he was never given that chance.

“I felt like it was a rare opportunity for me to kind of merge my personal space with the public and create something unique,” McMahon said.  “I think there is a big factor of trust in the idea of the project.  Just you know completely removing the barrier between the artist and the audience in a way.” 

According to Pappa, county management pulled the plug on McMahon’s piece.

Erik Pappa, Clark County spokesperson: “This exhibit didn’t meet our standards.”
Vanessa Murphy, I-Team Reporter: “Why not?”
Pappa: “Two reasons: One, it deferred a little bit from what was proposed to us originally and two, we have a prohibition on the use of discarded materials in artwork.”

Murphy: “Is it disappointing how this has unfolded or is this a positive that there’s now a discussion about it.  
McMahon: “I think it’s a positive ultimately. The disappointing part of it is kind of the lack of communication from the county.” 

“The lesson that we take away from this is that we need to work with the artist more and let them know what our expectations are,” Pappa said.

McMahon says he has received support from other local artists. 
In the meantime, the county is planning to bring some new art to the Government Center. 
 

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