PAST exhibit: Indra’s Jewels

  • Indra's Jewels
  • Indra’s Jewels

    This piece has become the logo of the the collection. It is another sign fragment that I zeroed in on at the Neon Museum. This element really was a pleasure to work with. The bulbs and light sockets are amazing design elements. I have been told that one of the signs that created this pattern is the Castaways Casino Sign.

    In the mid 70s, when I worked as a technical illustrator at EG&G, a government contractor for the Atomic Test Site, I would cash my paychecks at the Castaways. If you cashed your paycheck there, they would give you a couple of free beers and several free tugs at a slot machine. After quenching my thirst and trying my luck, I would head for the beautiful wooden Jain temple that stood near the swimming pool. One of the main attractions at the hotel was this wooden temple, known as the St. Louis Jain Temple, built of teak for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, otherwise known as the “Louisiana Purchase Exhibition.”

    This wooden Jain temple was a one-eighth scale version of a temple in Central India. The reproduction was made expressly for the Exposition. It is thought to have been carved by 65 artists at the Ahmedabad Woodcarving Company of India. One of the key figures involved in its fabrication was Lockwood de Forest, a New York City orientalist and interior architect.

    When I visited the temple, I was usually alone. The casino patrons preferred the smoke clogged, beer swilling and chance taking that seemed to preoccupy tourists. So, I would spend a quiet time inside this magnificently carved Jain temple, chanting the Heart Sutra out loud, and meditating. Only in Las Vegas; you can’t make this stuff up. Once again, this is a classic example of Samsara and Nirvana, the sacred and profane. They fight like lovers, going round after round, all around the clock, right here in Las Vegas.

    Aug 20 - Sep 30, 2017
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