Jody Rael – Las Vegas, NV
In Frame: Cailyn Williams @_2cailyn3_ • Lyla Miller @lyla.miller • Saylor Griffiths @saylormariegriffiths
HMUA: Jasmin Ochoa @soyella.co
Vegas is not known for rainbows – we are in a desert after all and rainbows require rain. So we have learnt to make them ourselves.
The Arts District provided Vegas with just such a rainbow. Sadly, these three amazing ladies are some of the last seniors I will ever get to shoot on this wall. The Las Vegas Arts District was called, for over 30 years, Antique Alley and was the home of some of the most authentic vintage and repurposed furniture and clothing stores in Vegas. You could truly see Vegas’ unique history in the Alley. In the last 10 to 15 years, the Alley became the Arts District as more artists and creatives moved in to the stores and buildings. They rejuvenated this sketchy part of town with beautiful murals, funky and authentic store fronts, comedy clubs and black box theaters. And where people gather for shopping and entertainment, unique gastropubs, cafes, wine bars, and restaurants filled the gaps to provide sustenance and hydration options along the 18 blocks of the Arts District. The area now has been rebranded as “Brewery Row.”
In the last month, the City of Vegas has imposed a special tax on businesses in Brewery Row — except! they have, in essence, removed the tax for all restaurants and bars. Nearly overnight, the originals to Antique Alley — the vintage furniture stores and the boutique clothing stores — and the revitalizing force of the artists of the Arts District, closed shop and moved out of Brewery Row. And the walls and windows of their shops and store fronts have been boarded up and tagged with graffiti. Sadly, this store — home to a custom tie-dye shop — has been painted white.
Cailyn, Lyla, and Saylor are the only three seniors I have ever photographed in front of these two murals, and it breaks my heart that the City of Vegas has decided to throw their weight around. Vegas does not have a long history, but what history we do have is fascinating and wild. It is horribly unfortunate that the beautiful colony these business owners have created has been dashed against the political liberalism. Cailyn, Lyla, and Saylor each brought their unique style and personality to the mural. With Cailyn, we stumbled across the mural just at the end of her senior portrait session, and her red corseted outfit created a unique silhouette. Lyla knew the mural and had specifically chosen her white top to stand out against the rainbow of colors. Saylor brought a different vibe to the tie-dye rainbow mural with her boho dress. I am disappointed in the mass exodus of the creatives from the Arts District, but I am so glad these three ladies let me record this little bit of Vegas history with them.