Celebrating the 12th year of his gallery, located in Downtown Summerlin®, Bobby Wheat represents the gold standard for innovation within the photographic medium. From traditional landscapes to his best-selling, ultra-modern Film Negatives Series, he has produced collections and pieces for customers across five continents and has been featured in luxury and art publications including Robb Report and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), to name a few.
What many don’t know is when Bobby is not in the gallery, you can usually find him scaling the cliffs of Red Rock Canyon, a hobby Bobby frequently uses to draw inspiration for his work.
Read on for insights from Bobby himself on shopping at his gallery, his adventures being a certified sommelier, giving back, his newest project and a few of his favorite spots at DTS.
Q: What experience can clients expect when purchasing art from the BWG?
I think the biggest thing is authenticity and a lifelong commitment to adding value to the fine art experience here in Las Vegas. From the originality, authenticity, and constant evolution of the work to customer service and the perks we offer to our patrons, we strive to make sure that every purchase grants access to a lifetime of creative enjoyment.
Q: How does being a certified sommelier contribute to your story?
It’s a mark of discipline and excellence. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever accomplished. I am a believer in giving 100% towards anything I have a gravitation towards. Our passions are what make us unique and pursuing them, I believe, will ultimately lead to our highest sense of fulfillment. And wine, while often misconstrued as a pretentious indulgence, is really just the story of grinders – farmers and such – who were absolutely obsessed with making something great with the resources at their disposal. To know their story is to improve my own.
Q: Who buys your artwork?
People who allow themselves to be inspired and know the value of surrounding themselves with others making an all-out effort to live a great story. We’ve done business with a variety of people from FedEx managers to PGA Tour Members to Fortune 500 CEOs, if you’re trying to make something from nothing or make more from something, and doing so without complaining or playing a victim, you are our people.
Q: How do designers and businesses benefit from working with the gallery for art for their clients/businesses?
Just like the way we spend our time, the neighborhoods we choose to live in, and the cars we choose to drive, the art on our walls is an extension, a representation of who we are, what we’ve been through, and who we aspire to be. It reminds us of the story we are writing with our lives. We aren’t here on earth just to exist and survive, we are meant to thrive. And we are often a product of what we surround ourselves with.
Q: In what ways has your success allowed you to give back to our Las Vegas/Summerlin community?
I don’t come from much, and when you’re broke, it’s hard to contribute much from a practical standpoint. Along with financial success comes the ability to contribute in that manner, but more importantly, it’s given me a platform to offer encouragement to others who visit the gallery, especially those who come from humble beginnings or might be fighting long odds in bringing their dream to fruition. If I can do it, anyone can, and sometimes just hearing that can be all of the encouragement someone needs to believe in their own aspirations.
Q: Why do you continue to work only with film rather than follow digital trends?
A few reasons – authenticity, quality, and mastery of my craft. Whereas so much of the world has gone the way of instant gratification, the process of working with film, to me feels like true artistry. When I am working with a subject, I can’t see my results instantly. Most of the time it takes weeks until the film is processed so I don’t have the luxury of making mistakes and correcting while on location. I must trust that my intuition and my skill as an artist are fine tuned to the point that I can bring my vision to fruition without the assistance of a digital screen. And finally, nobody switched to digital for quality, it was all for convenience. There is still nothing that compares to the look and feel of a print from analogue film.
Q: Why Downtown Summerlin for your local gallery?
Downtown Summerlin is top notch. The people from management to the janitorial staff are as good as they get. That’s where I want to be, and that is the type of people I want to be surrounded by. We are the epicenter and the heart of Vegas, the local Vegas.
Q: What places in Summerlin specifically do draw your inspiration from?
Red Rock is probably the main source. My house is less than two miles from the boundary of RRC. Whether its trail running or climbing, I’m out there almost every day. Growing up in Oklahoma, it was always a dream to live near the mountains. Everyday RRC is a reminder that anything is possible, and of what it has taken to make that dream come true. I will never take it for granted.
Q: Stars & Stripes is one of your newest works from Red Rock – tell us about it.
While a vintage 4×5 camera is my main creative tool, I love all things modern, from architecture to art. And I love telling stories inspired by my home in Vegas. Stars & Stripes is simply a rock formation I found when rock climbing photographed on 4×5 film and printed as a negative. Its modern art inspired by traditional landscape right in our backyard here in Vegas. I am also a very patriotic guy. I feel like I’ve won the birthplace lottery just having been born in the United States. Many of the great artists throughout history have used the American Flag in their work, and I love having found my own rendition among the high peaks of Red Rock Canyon.
Q: Biggest piece of advice for someone shopping for artwork.
Don’t overthink it. It takes all the fun out of it. If you like it and have the means to acquire it, buy it. We take care of delivery and installation here in Vegas for you.
Q: Best kept secret about your gallery?
Our Patrons know that we always stock their favorite wine, scotch, tequila, etc. on hand. We are often their pre-dinner drink option (free of charge) here at Downtown Summerlin.
Q: Favorite spot in DTS to snag a quick bite in-between gallery events and showings?
We’ve been to all of the dining options at DTS and love them all. Pancho’s and Frankie’s Uptown for happy hour, Harlo Steakhouse & Bar for a celebration, California Pizza Kitchen is my go-to quick lunch option. We use Grape Street Wine Bar for all our catering and enjoy dinner there as a family. And I’ve spent way too much money at Makers & Finders so I’ve had to ween myself off of the Lavender Latte (half sweet).
Q: What’s next for you?
Getting better each day in the place I call home. I want to climb the face of Mount Wilson in Red Rock. And I’d like to learn from people whose art form is in the business world. While the creative side comes very naturally, I am not a brilliant business mind by any stretch of the imagination, so that’s something I have tons of room to grow.
And in general, using my skillsets as an artist to tell the story of Vegas, expanding my influence and working with the talented people of this city to make sure Las Vegas continues to defy stereotypes and shock the world with our depth, our commitment to one another, and our unwavering commitment to excellence.