Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Andy Schmitz is a rigger who works during the day getting everything ready behind the scenes for Cirque du Soleil’s spectacular “KÁ” at MGM Grand. His work, combined with his nighttime counterparts who run the show backstage, keeps the show’s acrobatic artists safe and ready to do the impossible things they do.
He’s been with “KÁ” for just about a year but he’s worked in theater for a long time. A few years ago he teamed with his wife, currently a performer in “Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas, to start a small jewelry design company and website. They’d been creating jewelry at home and started spending more time dabbling in visual arts after receiving some encouragement from teachers at their child’s school.
“We made these wooden boards for my son’s school as a gift for the teachers,” Schmitz said. “In preschool, the students had been given these different desert flowers as symbols for different things in the classroom, like to get the kids to put their backpacks in the cubby hole with the Palo Verde flower. So we collected all these flowers and made these cutting board gifts for the teachers last year, and we posted some online and started to hear from people asking where they could get one.”
A version of that creation, called “Flower Board” and made with wood, resin and flowers, is Schmitz’s contribution to “Parade The Collective,” the annual Cirque du Soleil employee art exhibition currently on display at Core Contemporary Gallery.
The month-long exhibition debuted with a welcome reception on Thursday, showcasing 20 original works of art in a variety of mediums including painting, photography, costuming, sculpture and multimedia work. The installation continues from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday through January 4 at Core, located at 900 E. Karen Ave. #D222. It’s free to attend.
It’s just one of the ways in which the Cirque du Soleil community contributes to local art and culture, an effort that certainly stretches far beyond the fantastic spectacles playing on Strip stages every night.
“I don’t think I’d be pursuing opportunities to present visual art pieces in galleries or trying to promote that without this exhibition,” Schmitz said. “There’s a lot of creative energy in Las Vegas with my peers in Cirque and others in the shows they have, and they need an outlet. If you’ve worked your whole life to be really good at being a clown or an acrobat and spent your [career] creating new acts or numbers, and now you have this fantastic job where you can afford a great life [in Las Vegas], the other side of that coin is you’re doing the same thing every night for years and you can lose that avenue of new creativity you always had that got you into doing this. It’s nice to have an outlet like this and I think that’s why they started it.”