Stella DeSha Thomas Gallery Las Vegas by William and Linda Nevison



Interview with Artists William and Linda Nevison

Linda and William Nevison have been photographing Las Vegas on a yearly basis since 1994. We asked Linda and William about their work and why Vegas?

William, what first got you started in photography?

William:  I guess I was always interested in photography. When in my teens, I used to always run out and buy the new editions of "Life" and all the photographic magazines, even before I owned a camera. In 1967, I finally bought my first camera. It was a heavy little gem of a SLR camera, called a Minolta SRT-101 with a 50mm 1.4 lens and an additional 135mm 2.8 lens. Then came more cameras, Hasselblad, Nikon, Minolta auto focus and lastly a Canon T90. I also have a collection of various Point-and-Shoots.

Linda:   William got me to purchase my first SLR camera, a Minolta SRT-102. Since then photography has been a part of our lives.

What kinds of pictures do you like to take?


William: I have always liked architecture, signs, and all sorts of lighting etc. The changing of the colours in the fall is also one of my favourite subjects. The photography of architecture, signs etc is probably why I have such a great passion for Las Vegas.

Linda:   I like to shoot family and travel pictures.

Linda, could you tell us more about the Shark Mural. We tend to think of LV as gambling and showbiz but you notice a more artistic side. Would you like to elaborate on that?

Linda:   Given that watching fish can lower your blood pressure (so medical experts say), I found the artwork of the mural very calming. Also, we had just finished touring the exhibit of sharks and various other marine species. We had never seen so many sharks in one place.

While in Las Vegas we have also visited "The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art". At the time (September 1999), the artwork was the personal collection of "Steve Wynn" the former Mirage Resorts Chairman. The gallery included $300 million in works of the masters which included, Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir and even Warhol, just to name a few. Now since "Steve Wynn" is no longer the Mirage Resorts Chairman, the gallery presents rotating exhibits from the worlds greatest art collections. Currently through fall 2001 the gallery is exhibiting the collection from "Steve Martin". William and I have always enjoyed excellent artwork, and in fact my sister-in-law is a well-known Etobicoke artist.

But Las Vegas is more than gambling; this city has changed over the course of many years and has a lot to offer. Gone are the days of "sin city", which included "Bugsy Siegel".

William, what fascinates you particularly about the architecture of Las Vegas? There seem to be all these layers of time and space suggested by your photographs. Hotels constantly are being built and demolished. Makes you wonder how there could be any "old" or "original" buildings left such as the ones of the old strip in your sepia photographs. Also, there seems to be an interesting structural contrast between the "new" Vegas and the "old" strip now covered by the big umbrella. The big umbrella itself is an interesting architectural phenomenon, which is prominent in many of these pictures.

William:  Whenever Linda and I go to Las Vegas we are always reminded of the words of Penn Jillette, (the big loud half of Penn & Teller), who said and I quote "In Las Vegas, if something gets to be about 5 years old, we blow the living bejesus out of it."

Since 1994 Linda and I, have seen the passing of the Hacienda, The Sands, The Aladdin, and lately the 2nd El Rancho. The older Las Vegas still exists downtown, around the Fremont Street Experience. The F.S.E. as it is known, consists of a $70 million light and sound extravaganza, which presents several shows nightly along a 90-foot-tall canopy four blocks long. 31 computers power the show with a capacity of 100 gigabytes of storage. The canopy contains 2.1 million bulbs that can produce 65,536 colour combinations. For the show, the best time is at night, but for photography the best time is during the day. The translucent canopy gives a beautiful even, natural light, which is perfect for B&W or sepia type pictures. Why B&W or sepia? Because this is the original Las Vegas. The Golden Gate Hotel dates back to 1906. The Golden Nugget dates back to 1946. Hence most of the original pictures are only available in B&W or sepia. I just wanted to tie in the history of downtown Las Vegas with a more historic looking type of picture.

Also since 1994, Linda and I have seen a great change on "The Strip". In 7 years, and 11 trips we have taken pictures of all the new additions. The Strip is where you notice the new theme hotels and the new facelifts. Since 1994, I have taken 5 different fašade pictures of Caesars Palace alone. Together in the last seven years we have welcomed onto The Strip, Mandalay Bay (1999), NewYork, New York (1997), Monte Carlo (1996), Aladdin (2000), Paris (1999), Bellagio (1998), Venetian (1999), and the Stratosphere (1996). I might mention that other strip hotels have seen new additions, such as the Luxor, The MGM Grand, Flamingo, Caesars Palace (as mentioned before) Harrah's, Sahara and the Stratosphere. For anyone who takes pictures of different types of architecture, this is one city you don't want to miss. Granted the architecture is manufactured, but still it is there and it is different. Next stop, will be authentic mid-west architecture in Chicago, I hope.

Do you use any special equipment, film, developing processes?

William:  When in Las Vegas, the temperature can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. Hence for the last 2 years (2000-2001) I have used only 2 point-and-shoot cameras. I enjoy using the Yashica T4 and the Ricoh GR-1; both cameras are small with excellent lenses. The T4 is usually loaded with B&W film (Kodak T400 CN or Ilford Delta) and the 7 element GR-1 is loaded with slide film (Fuji Velvia 50 or Provia F100)

Linda:  My favourite camera now, is a point-and-shoot Yashica T4 loaded with colour print film, such as Fuji Reala 100.

Where would you like to go with it? Goals, dreams, plans?

William: After 35 years of photography, my goal now is to publish a portfolio of my best work on Las Vegas, and also a related in-house exhibition of the same work. I might publish a more comprehensive book of pictures of Las Vegas since 1994. Who knows, in time I will try to visit Arizona and New Mexico.

Linda: Since I have a collection of my own framed Cuban pictures, maybe I can get my husband away from Las Vegas, to Havana Cuba or even Arizona or New Mexico, for a long awaited change of scenery.

William Nevison has been taking pictures for the last 35 years. His first camera was a brand new Minolta SRT-101 with a 50mm and 135mm lens. Over the past 35 years, he has used Minolta, Nikon, Canon and Hasselblad. But in the last 2 years of Las Vegas pictures, he has used 2 very sharp point and shoot cameras, namely the Yashica T4 and the Ricoh GR-1.

When shooting Las Vegas, he likes to use different films such as 25 ISO to 800 ISO print film, 50 ISO to 100 ISO slide film and also black & white film done in a sepia tone. Like Marden Paul, he goes back to the same place every year - as he has since 1994. Why? because he likes it there!



See William Nevison's Doors 2004 exhibition and Linda Nevison's Mexico.
Read the Artist's Statement

To contact William and Linda Nevison, please cut & paste this address into an email: linda.nevison@utoronto.ca

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