Artists' Top Five: Daniel Samaniego

Image: Krystal Ramirez,  Coyotes , 2018

Image: Krystal Ramirez, Coyotes, 2018

  1. Paradise Palms I regularly fall asleep with my computer lit up by Trulia’s listings for homes in Las Vegas’ historic Paradise Palms neighborhood. Designed by famed Architect William Krissel and built in the early 1960s, the neighborhood’s showcase homes boast celestory windows, cinder block privacy screens, indoor atriums, and expansive desertscapes. For me, Paradise Palms remains a dazzling last vestige of rat pack era Vegas, and a rare feat of architectural preservation in the city. When I’m in town, I make it a point to drive through the Paradise Palms, and admire the many homes that have been meticulously restored to their atomic age glory. But i’m also struck by those homes that have been hastily renovated by home flippers, who too often erase the neighborhood’s distinct mid century period charm. This jumble of high style and tragic decline represent the truth of Las Vegas as a city in search of both its past and future.
  2. Record City Filled from the shag carpeted floor to ‘popcorn’ ceiling with vinyl treasure that would put even Amoeba Music in San Francisco to shame, Record City, the garish purple-bricked building adjacent to the SLS Hotel is a record collector’s nirvana. Open to the public since as long as i’ve cared about music, Record City seems unconcerned with serving the millenial appetite for new releases or archival reissues, instead catering to discerning collectors of all ages with a thirst for original issue 45s, LPs, tapes, and CDs at fair prices. The people that work there are pretty nice too.
  3. The Verona Sky Villas at The Westgate More is always more, as proven by the decadent Verona Sky Villa penthouse at the Westgate resort. Some years ago, I was treated to a private tour of the expansive suite, which has seemingly innumerable rooms, infinite gilded mirrors and elaborate hand-painted frescoe replicas. The fact that Michael Douglas and Matt Damon filmed a love scene in the suite’s jacuzzi for the 2013 Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra,adds to space’s flowery allure.
  4. Desert Museum Palo Verde When I lived in Las Vegas, I paid little attention to the natural landscape, or the ornamental desert landscape around me. When I go back to visit Las Vegas now, the range of vibrant trees and fauna seem practically alien to me. The Desert Museum Palo Verde (Cercidium spp.) is my favorite tree. Widely planted throughout the Las Vegas Valley, the tree is immediately recognizable for its smooth green bark and elegant upright branching ramification. The delicate, finely divided foliage falls in the autumn, which returns with a dazzling display of canary yellow flower clusters in the spring. 
  5. Coyotes Coyotes is my favorite place for Mexican food in...Henderson, of course! While it’s true I love the perfectly salted chips and margaritas, sizzling fajitas and fluffy sopapillas, I love that the restaurant, as long as i’ve known it, has remained relatively unchanged. It might as well be 1995 at Coyotes. From the décor, to the menu, seriously, nothing has changed. And that feels like a good thing. Also, I worked there as a busser at the age of 16. Once, I infamously spilled an entire tray of waters over the laps of off-duty Henderson cops. 

DANIEL SAMANIEGO is an artist based in Oakland, CA. His hyper-detailed drawing installations are a meditation on queer persona. He received his BFA in Painting and Drawing in 2007 from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and an MFA in Painting in 2011 from the San Francisco Art Institute. Samaniego has been an Artist in Residence at the Vermont Studio Center (2014) and at the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust Soaring Gardens Artist Retreat in Laceyville, PA (2018). His project THE FILE, featuring studio visits, conversations and issues in new painting and drawing, is a regular feature on the blog.