Urban Enthusiasts – April 2015

Urban Enthusiasts – April 2015

4/07/15

Ruzo Logic and Kim Johnson are artists, gardeners, business owners and activists. Johnson is a Las Vegas native while Logic came to the city in 1993, originally hailing from Miami, Florida. Logic started Guerrilla Kage, a monthly art project that invites local artists to create large scale pieces on canvas stretched on three sided “cages,” for road side display. Johnson came on shortly after its inception, and since then, the pair has seen the project grow and become a staple in the 18b Arts District and First Friday scene. Drivers and pedestrians enjoy the constantly changing artwork that adorn the three-panel boxes along the side of Charleston Avenue at Casino Center Blvd. The Guerrilla Kages feature rotating work by local artists and student artists that are painted live during the monthly First Friday art walk.

What drew you to DTLV?

Johnson: I spent my childhood near downtown Las Vegas, so it felt a natural shift to creatively work and play in DTLV.  I moved my studio downtown to be close to work in the arts community.  About a year later I met Ruzo Logic and fell in love with the Guerrilla Kage project. I’ve been committed to downtown guerrilla art as well as my own artwork ever since. That, and of course the people that work and live downtown. I’m really drawn to the energy that’s unique to DTLV.

What makes living and working downtown enjoyable for you?

Logic: I love the openness of the area and the variety of businesses. The complexity of shops offer interaction with others in ways you can’t get in the suburbs. What we have is what people in the suburbs drive here for: vintage clothing, art galleries, and small community dinners. The whole place is a park as you walk and talk to shop owners checking on how they are doing.

What are some of your favorite attractions in the area?

Logic: We offer anything you want to do: from build a building, bake a cake, paint a painting, ride a bike, feed the homeless or go to church. And with the freedom to do it at your leisure.

Johnson: We walk the “hood” just about every day. Ruzo has generously introduced me to a lot of the neighborhood over the last year so it’s really hard to pick a favorite. There’s so much from RocknNoodles, Ocha to Casa Don Juan’s for eating out. Then of course there’s Bar&Bistro, Arts Factory and all those little shops and places in between in all directions. Because of so much being within walking distance there’s something or someone different to enjoy running into every time without fail.

What do you think sets DTLV apart from other neighborhoods in Las Vegas?

Johnson: When people ask me that the first thing that comes to mind is the difference is DTLV has an energy that has a little sharper teeth and claws than anywhere else in the city. I don’t mean that in a mean or negative way but in a smart instinctive way. Its gritty simplicity and history are unmatched and there’s a sophisticated street smart vibe you can’t get anywhere else in the city.

What new things are you looking forward to downtown?

Logic: We see many ideas come and go here. I look forward to more community events planning. This is what we need more of. Drawing people to our little village and introducing them to our shops and the wonderful people that open these doors each day.

Photo: Ruzo Logic and Kim Johnson by Lucky Wenzel

 

  • Dayvid Figler and Rae Lathrop

    DF: Downtown was great as a kid and it is even greater as an adult. I love all of downtown’s hidden gems, its vibrancy, history and sense of connection. Rae is relatively newer to Las Vegas, but just as passionate about downtown. Downtown lends itself to the shared experience, and as a couple we both love seeing this part of the city through each other's eyes. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

     

  • Rob Ponte

    Some of the best nights I’ve experienced started out with no plan other than walking around to check out what’s going on. The great thing about having so many bars and restaurants downtown is the ability to move around if you’re not feeling the vibe in one place. There are plenty of options just outside the door. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Brandon Wiegand

    The downtown Las Vegas of today has much to attract residents - a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene, growing diversity of businesses, and major centers of art and culture. Plus, living downtown I am easily within walking or biking distance of it all. Photo: Lucky Wenzel

  • Hank Gordon, Chairman of Laurich Properties

    It is always a pleasure to deal with the city of Las Vegas’ economic development department. The staff is really interested in helping create a positive business environment to work with.

  • Jonathan Jenkins, Founder & CEO of OrderWithMe

    As our company continues its rapid growth, we quickly realized the need to set up a formal U.S. headquarters. We explored multiple cities and were about to make the move to San Francisco, and then we heard about the complete reinvention of downtown Las Vegas. Coming from China where things are booming and growing, we love that downtown Vegas now has a similar vibe of energy and change. Not only is there an exciting tech community here and much lower costs than the Bay Area, but we love the fact that almost every industry group brings their conventions to our front door once a year.

  • Andy Hsieh, Owner of Lux Delux

    We love the vibrancy and energy of Las Vegas, and downtown is at the heart of it all. That's why we've launched our mobile platform with a focus on downtown. This is an exciting time in Las Vegas history, where community, commerce and technology are all converging at once. Downtown is our city's hidden gem.

  • Ramesh Srinivasan, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of Partnerships of SocialWellth

    We chose to relocate from the suburbs to downtown for several reasons. Our brand image and that of downtown’s mesh perfectly. The new downtown Las Vegas reflects a more hip, startup, social media-style image. Additionally, downtown’s emerging technology corridor, anchored by Zappos, is an environment that enhances our ability to recruit the types of technical skill sets required for our continued growth and success.

  • Mark Brandenburg, President of Golden Gate

    I think downtown Las Vegas is a unique blend of intimacy and great energy. Plus, in contrast to The Strip, it’s so easy to walk around…The Golden Gate has been here for over 100 years and with all the changes going on downtown, it feels like a new era. It truly is a renaissance—the rebirth of a classic.

  • Roberto Mendoza, Co-owner of Banger Brewing

    The city has been great in helping us with the licensing and procedures necessary to start a business. There hasn't been a brewery built in the city of Las Vegas for probably 10 years. So for them it hasn't been a typical ‘cut and paste’ thing. We're something different. It was a team work process to get us opened – a lot of talk and listening on both sides. And now the city started opening up the doors for other breweries once we were up and running. Good news for us and good news for the future. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Alexandra Epstein, Executive Vice President of El Cortez Casino Hotel

    This downtown area… is emerging and where many events are happening.

  • Meghan Mossler, Owner of Stitch Factory

    The city and the department of economic development have been very helpful to us and all the other downtown business owners. It’s such a community here, and everyone asks you what you need. That kind of help launching a business is amazing and priceless.

  • Pamela Dylag, Co-owner of Velveteen Rabbit

    The city is so supportive of new businesses. Things are popping up constantly. (Photo: Lucky Wenzel)

  • Marc Abelman, CFO & Co-owner of Inside Style

    Downtown is becoming very much in demand…there’s a limited supply. Run fast, don’t walk.

  • Sam Cherry, CEO of Cherry Development

    For a while, downtown was one of the only places in the valley you would see cranes when you drove around. It was nice that city government stepped up and the private sector married with the public sector to create amazing projects that filled the gap. That was very important for us.

  • Johnny Jimenez, Owner of Toy Shack of Las Vegas

    Our business is booming amid the foot traffic on Fremont Street, and we’ve started to see how tourists are falling in love with downtown as they discover it. In the past year, we’re increasingly hearing things like, ‘Wow, next time we’ll stay downtown instead of on The Strip,’ or ‘We’ve visited downtown many times, but this is the first year we’ve actually stayed in a downtown hotel.’ They like that there is more to do within a smaller walking radius.

  • Rich Worthington, President and CEO of The Molasky Group of Companies

    Historically, downtown Las Vegas has not been a top destination for many locals, but in recent years… that trend is reversing itself. Given all the recent openings and progress, there’s much to explore and experience downtown.