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Call goes out for Las Vegas Showgirl Art Competition

http://www.viewnews.com/2010/VIEW-Jun-08-Tue-2010/downtown/36254819.html

By AMANDA LLEWELLYN
VIEW STAFF WRITER

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Kurt Chang/special to view Showgirl Alexandra Zevalkin poses for students in Kelly Mable’s art class at Las Vegas Academy during a kickoff for the 2010 Las Vegas Showgirl Art Competition and Costume Exhibition. Outside artists were welcomed into the classroom for the first time this year.

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Kurt Chang/special to view Artist Jerry Blank signs his work for Las Vegas Academy art students, from left, Carmen Pizzaro, Emry Layton, Adryen Gonzalez and Claudi Pai.

http://www.viewnews.com/2010/VIEW-Jun-08-Tue-2010/downtown/images/4531776_thumb.jpg

Kurt Chang/special to view Showgirl Alexandra Zevalkin poses for students in Kelly Mable’s art class at Las Vegas Academy during a kickoff for the 2010 Las Vegas Showgirl Art Competition and Costume Exhibition. Outside artists were welcomed into the classroom for the first time this year.

Las Vegas resident Lou Anne Harrison Chessik founded the Las Vegas Showgirl Art Competition more than four years ago in an effort to help keep the dying Las Vegas showgirl at the forefront of the public psyche.

Now, the 2010 Las Vegas Showgirl Art Competition & Costume Exhibition is in full swing, and Harrison Chessik said she is satisfied that the effort has and will continue to serve its purpose.

"I think I have done exactly what I set out to do," she said. "Showgirls are a living part of Las Vegas history and a dying breed."

Harrison Chessik said she got the idea to develop the competition after a successful cast reunion at the Stardust Hotel in 2006.

"We had all these great entertainers in one room," she said. "I realized then that we needed to find a way to keep people involved and excited about the showgirl. An art competition was among my first ideas."

Harrison Chessik is not an artist, but she said she loved the idea immediately because artists would be able to portray the showgirls as they really are.

"You're talking about balletically trained, beautiful, muscular women in spectacular costumes," she said. "That's an artist's dream."

Local artist Jerry Blank has been painting Las Vegas street themes since moving here nine years ago and said he also has a penchant for portraying the historic Las Vegas showgirl.

"They are a part of Las Vegas and the history here, so why not?" he said.

Blank said he believes the competition serves a valuable purpose in the valley.

"I think it allows artists to touch on a legacy that is Las Vegas," he said. "It's a way of paying tribute to the gals who work in the shows. They work real hard, I'm sure."

The competition invites local artists to submit works featuring current and historic showgirls by July 15. Interested parties can submit a drawing or painting, in person or by e-mail, no larger than 24 x 36 inches. For more information, call 243-6329.

Winners are to be chosen by a panel of five judges. Cash prizes are planned.

The artwork of the top 20 artists is set to be displayed on the website www.showgirllegacy.com and other galleries throughout Nevada.

Students at Las Vegas Academy got a chance to sketch a professional showgirl at a competition kick off in mid-May, when a dancer donned one of the costumes from Reno's "Hello Hollywood Hello" collection.

"The kids get a chance to talk about it and feel the heaviness of those costumes," Harrison Chessik said. "We've done this all four years, and it is one of my favorite parts of the experience."

Harrison Chessik said showgirl productions have gone the way of a bygone era.

"They were lavish, beautiful and expensive," she said. "Those shows were quintessential Vegas. For the most part, save one or two shows on the Strip, they're gone now. But I don't think it would be right to allow the memory of what we created to die out, too."

Contact North Las Vegas and Downtown View reporter Amanda Llewellyn at allewellyn@viewnews.com or 380-4535.