In August of 2016, I walked into what seemed to be an ordinary Starbucks, just off of the world-famous Las Vegas strip, and discovered something unexpected. This Starbucks was inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a luxury hotel and casino full of eye-catching artwork
. But this 'artwork' wasn't immediately clear to decipher; a series of randomly coloured shapes painted on different walls and surfaces. It looked vibrant but appeared 'not quite complete' which is why the longer I stared at these shapes, the more confident I became that there was more to this story.
The store was fairly busy, it was the middle of a hot summer day in Nevada after all, so I was standing in a line. From the angle of the ordering line, the shapes seemed to connect in some way. There were lots of similar curves, and the graphics looked as if they were all gravitating towards one specific space. A red panel hanging from the ceiling had no functional reason for being. The shapes didn't make sense.
As I then ordered and walked around the store, following the space in between furniture, the shapes started to connect and overlap magically. It was like the coloured panels were coming to life to reveal their purpose. Even though I was the one moving, the relationship between the shapes was transforming. And as I kept walking, I spotted a circular graphic on the floor in the corner by the window. It was a sticker of a perfect circle made from different shards of colour. The sticker was just large enough to stand on, and the colours were instantly familiar as they were the same as the paint on the walls. And that's when I realised, the real-life shapes would come together to form that same circular graphic if I stood on that spot - and they did right in front of my eyes.
It was a rich and vibrant piece of graphic art hidden in plain sight. Only from this one particular point did it all make sense, even though I could feel there was more to these wonderfully complementary colours when I first entered the store. The piece left an impression on me, and it is far more impressive in person. The photos don't emit the same sense of scale you experience when the work is right there in front of you. A giant colourful circle that is neither here nor there. At first, you can't quite see it, and then you can't miss it. It's fascinating seeing art that develops in the eye of the viewer. Without anyone to observe it, it merely does not exist.
This piece at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Starbucks was designed by George Rousse, a Paris born artist and photographer who has established a name for himself creating work that plays with the laws of perspective. If you visit Las Vegas, I urge you to see this piece for yourself and experience the art magically assemble as you stroll towards it.
The majority of people who enter that Starbucks will see it, but they will never really see it; they won't feel the magic of the 3D segments transcend into a pure 2D shape. Starbucks isn't a place you go to see art, especially when in Las Vegas, and I think that's what I loved so much about it. It was completely unexpected. It caught me off guard. It lured me in, and once I saw it, I couldn't turn away. I don't remember what I ordered from Starbucks that day, but I don't think i'll ever forget this piece of art, at least I hope I never do. That's what great art does. It leaves an impression and stays in the mind of the viewer. It adds richness to culture, and this piece is proof that you don’t need to be in a gallery to be moved by art, you can be anywhere. All you have to do is look.