For the past year, the Weekly has been asking the Valley’s artists, musicians, performers and craftspeople what it is that inspires them—the books, songs, places and shows that fuel their creativity. Now, with Las Vegas at a commercial standstill, many of these artists have some hour to fill and new kinds of challenges to face. Recently, we checked in with some of our “what inspires you” subjects to ask them what they’ve been working on during the stay-in-place order.
HOLLY VAUGHN, BATTLE BORN PINS During the quarantine, I’m designing a ton of new vintage Vegas- and Nevada-inspired pins. I’m so excited to share them and provide a fun and beautiful way for people to represent their hometown! I’m also working on an Instagram account called @shop.local.vegas, which will be a comprehensive list of businesses where locals and tourists alike can shop small. It includes stores, bars, restaurants and coffee shops. There’s even a section dedicated to businesses that are only available online. I’m hoping this resource will make it even easier to discover local goods.
RJ OWENS, MAGICIAN AND GENTLEMAN CLOWN Couldn’t stand it yesterday so I got on Instagram Live (@magicfungi) and told jokes for half an hour. Today, we’re playing “What’s in RJ’s Kitchen” … and I am going to cook a meal live with what’s in my fridge and pantry.
AMY SAUNDERS, THE MISS BEHAVE GAMESHOW Does filing count? Taxes?
RYAN BRUNTY, DEPRESSED MONSTERS I was so excited to finally work with the Barrick Museum at UNLV—my first museum work. I finished a window display a few weeks ago and there was an opening scheduled for the 27th, but it’s been delayed due to the pandemic. The piece is called “Yerman: Peaks & Valleys.”
I’ve been wanting to re-up my Brain Fuzzies podcast (@brainfuzzies) for quite some time but never had the opportunity due to time constraints. But since I have all the time in the world now, I am going to be debuting the podcast in the next few weeks. I’ve had Hobo Johnson, Cherry Glazerr and Robert Downey Jr’s son on it in the past.
I’ve been creating pieces on Instagram (@depressedmonsters) that help me to feel better through the isolation and self-quarantine. Since Depressed Monsters is such a personal brand for me and focuses on my own journey with my mental health, these are my personal barometers/reflection of the times, at least through my eyes.
Also, Depressed Monsters launched at Hot Topic in January, and we’ve been growing that partnership. I’ve been working on new designs for this partnership through the quarantine.
AMANDA WILLIAMS, COSTUMER Basically, [I’m] just making protective masks for local hospitals and friends. Also, chasing down fabric and elastic supplies, since they are in high demand these days.
KIM FOSTER, AUTHOR AND HOST OF PLEASE SEND NOODLES Weirdly enough, my quarantine movements are all about fiction. I’m publishing a middle-grade (ages 8-12) horror novel called Haunted Organic this week. It’s about three teenagers in Sydney chasing a giant mutant squid that is coming to land and eating kids. (Obviously rooted in reality. Ha!) My husband, David, just published it on Amazon, and we’re working on a paperback version, and I think I can record an audiobook.
I also have a scant draft of a middle-grade horror novel, called Alter-Edie, about a girl who looks in the mirror and sees her image move and is pulled into a terrifying world behind the bathroom mirror. [My daughter] Edie is collaborating with me. It has super-short chapters, so she and I are going to publish a chapter a day on Wattpad until it’s finished.
And, you know—writing about food and culture, keeping the kids from tying each other up, trying to have a full uninterrupted conversation with my husband, walk the dogs, make sourdough and eat my weight in Sichuan food.
MONTANA BLACK, ARTIST I’m working on a painting called “Blessed Unrest” (mixed media on canvas / 42’w x 18″ h) for the Climate Change show I’m curating that’s scheduled to happen August 6, provided we are on the other side of this health crisis. Also, I’m continuing in my personal interest in using tarot in still life paintings. The latest is “Two of Cups” (in progress; oil on panel/ 12×12).
Started carving a linocut print. And lastly, in terms of making art, I am drawing portraits of people that inspire me. The latest since the lockdown began are Thomas Merton, Nelson Mandela and Marie Maynard Daly. All are done in colored pencil on gray-toned paper.
Also, I decided I need to learn graphic illustration. I’m doing some online training for that.
MICHELLE WATTS, MUSICIAN AND AUTHOR I’ve been writing tons of new music. I recently moved into a house with much more space, and I’ve set up a little studio area. I’m experimenting with different instruments, different ways of creating songs. I plan to record a few stripped-down versions of these songs before the quarantine is through. I might even call the release The Quarantine Tapes.
The new music I’ve been writing is a bit dark. One of the songs recounts an episode I had years ago. I was being stalked by someone that lived in my neighborhood. It was completely traumatic and fundamentally shifted the way I viewed the world, all the darkness in it cast longer shadows. It feels relevant during this period of isolation, in which I am sure many people are reevaluating the way they view the world.
I’m also working on a fantasy novel! If I am being quite honest, I’m embarrassed to tell people that I write. It’s such a personal and private thing—the sort of thing that is done alone and away from the world. Talking about it seems almost silly. But I write all the time, and when I’m not writing, I’m reading.
Fantasy has always been my favorite genre, so I guess it’s natural that I eventually gravitated toward writing it. I’m really working on creating an ambience with this project; I’m trying to synthesize fantasy and horror into a contemporary setting. Picture a neo-noir thriller with magic and werewolves. The main character is a young man whose father recently committed suicide. He is lost and disassociating, working as a bartender and harboring a growing alcohol addiction. Suddenly, his life takes a horrifying turn, and he is thrust into a seething underworld of dark magic and dangerous secrets.