Leaving Las Vegas was something that TarissaTiberti had planned. Coming back, she thought, wouldn’t be in the cards. Having grown up in a well-established Las Vegas family (her grandfather founded J.A. Tiberti Construction Company), she left in 1994 to pursue an education and career in art, earning an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, working as a gallery assistant in New York, and becoming an accomplished artist in her own right.
But Tiberti’s art—mostly richly ornamental and architectural two-and-three-dimensional works—has been on the back burner ever since she got a call six years ago from another Vegas native, Michele Quinn, who was working on CityCenter’s $40 million art collection and curating for the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.
“Michele called and said, ‘I don’t have a show for you. I have a job for you,’” Tiberti recalls. Paper Ball, the organization that had been operating the Bellagio Gallery, was leaving and someone was needed to direct the day-to-day operations. “I told my roommate in New York that I’d be back. She said, ‘You’re not coming back.’” The roommate was correct. With her hometown upping its art-world ante, “I knew I could help make a difference in a city I grew up in,” Tiberti says. “I could get further by being here than being there and doing the same thing.”
Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol Museum, with Tiberti at the “Warhol Out West” VIP opening at the Bellagio Gallery in February 2013
Fast-forward to today, and Tiberti is presenting the most important art coming into the Valley, including the pieces in the recent exhibit “Warhol Out West,” a collection from the Andy Warhol Museum that connects the renowned New York Pop artist with the American West, and the upcoming “Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” a show that Tiberti pared down to accommodate the Strip’s unique audience. “You get every type of person,” she says of the broad range of visitors hitting Las Vegas Boulevard daily. “We have 2,500 square feet and need to catch people in 2.5 days,” the average length of a stay in Vegas.
Reaching a wide variety of people is something Tiberti has become quite skilled at. For 2011’s “Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form,” she combined works from MGM Resorts’ fine-art collection with pieces from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and San Diego’s Museum of Contemporary Art—which allowed for some once-in-a-lifetime juxtapositions, such as an AndréDerain portrait next to one by YoshitomoNara, two artists who had created those works at the same age but in different time periods, cultures, and countries. With the following exhibit, “A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney,” Tiberti took a similar approach. Both shows fulfilled the public’s desire to see masterworks, while also suggesting how artists of different eras and movements approached similar subjects. Mixed in were gems by lesser-known artists working in new media, so visitors who attended to see a Picasso were also pleasantly surprised by a video installation.
Mrs. Duffee Seated on a Striped Sofa, Reading (1876) by Mary Cassatt, from the Bellagio Gallery’s upcoming “Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.”
Tiberti knows that names like Picasso, Monet, and Warhol are key to reaching a general audience, which makes “Painting Women” a more unusual endeavor for the Bellagio Gallery. While Georgia O’Keeffe and Mary Cassatt might be familiar to art-world neophytes, artists such as Marie Louise ÉlisabethVigée-LeBrun (the portrait painter to Marie Antoinette) are not. The exhibition, spanning the years 1860–1950, features women both as professional artists and as subjects, some of whom, Tiberti says, “went from one side of the canvas to the other.”
As the only space on the Strip presenting exhibits of this caliber, Bellagio remains committed to fine art, as does Tiberti, who is busy working on the two shows that will follow “Painting Women.” That means tracking down pieces not already headed elsewhere and available for loan. “There are challenges in trying to get what you want,” she says. “And you also have everybody else’s opinion.” With a smile, she adds, “It’s tough, but it’s a good tough.” “Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” will open February 14 and run until October 27. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, 702-693-7871