The art of AREA15 continues to grow and evolve in Las Vegas
There’s always something new at AREA15—and the latest addition to the off-Strip entertainment complex is hard to miss. A pair of red bulldogs now frame the main entrance; standing firm and commanding attention with water bottles strapped to their backs and a pair of sneakers wrapped around their front paws. The sculptures are the latest example of the ever-evolving art installations at AREA15—a living, breathing masterpiece in its own right—and immediately set the tone for anyone paying a visit to the eclectic facility.
“When we designed AREA15, we wanted it to have a sense of arrival, almost like you’re approaching a castle or cathedral,” says Chief Creative Officer Michael Beneville, noting the similarities to the lion statues outside the New York Public Library’s Beaux-Arts building. “These two just do it beautifully. For the time we have them, they will be great guardians.”
The pieces by Belgian artist William Sweetlove, officially named “Cloned Bulldog with Pet Bottle,” have traveled the world to destinations like London, Paris and New York before arriving in Las Vegas. Each stands eight-feet-tall, constructed from old water bottles and other recycled plastic material. They represent a clear message about sustainability and turning waste into something visually compelling instead of trash left to float in the ocean or take up space in a landfill. It’s about making a choice for the greater good, even if this particular one is mostly symbolic.
“If you can make that change, then you can make other changes,” says Beneville in interpreting the meaning behind the work. “It’s a soft statement – like a Dr. Suess book. It gives a message, but does it with a smile… And I think that’s really important in getting people to think about things.”
Miniatures of “Cloned Bulldog with Pet Bottle” will soon be on sale at Wild Muse Boutique, the gift shop inside AREA15, beautifully packaged in an assortment of colors for $289-$389. They’re not replicas, but smaller versions of the same type of art and a statement that high-end collectables aren’t just for the wealthy. “They’re official William Sweetlove artwork, not a toy,” adds Beneville. “It’s definitely something you should put on your shelf and display.”
The belief that art is universal and should be accessible to everyone is a core value of what AREA15 is all about. Yes, admission is individually charged to see Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart (a concept piece modeled after a grocery store), the lights and sound of Museum Fiasco, the neon visuals of Wink World and the newly opened Illuminarium, which takes visitors on an African safari or journey to space via immersive multimedia presentations. Yet there’s no general admission fee to enter AREA15 itself, a place thoroughly decorated with art installations, including the dramatic large-scale Art Island pieces by the parking lot.
AREA15 is approaching its two-year anniversary in September, having welcomed close to 3 million visitors since opening day. It’s an impressive figure, especially when considering that capacity was limited during much of the pandemic. As the art program continues to evolve (or continue a process of “renewal” as Beneville likes to say), anticipation is building for even more additions like the arrival of a recently purchased 747 fuselage, made internet-famous as an interactive art piece for the Burning Man festival in Northern Nevada.