Storytelling for the Eyes

Mob Month at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District concludes in a fitting way. This series of lectures and discussions ends with a “duel” between two authors reading excerpts from their Mafia tell-alls, while two local artists create live works of art from their explosive words.

Painted Stories: Duel in the Library happens January 31 at Clark County Library’s main branch. The Painted Words series is the brainchild of Eric James Miller, president of the Vegas-based nonprofit Writers of Southern Nevada, who observed that all this town’s literary conferences featured only “talking heads.” It inspired him to come at a classic idiom from a new angle.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then aren’t a thousand words worth a picture?” Miller says. He felt a reading series with local artists would be something new for Vegas, and thus Painted Stories was born in early 2015.

This month’s event features Randy Sutton, a former Metro police lieutenant and actor (he first appeared in Martin Scorcese’s Casino) and Vito Colucci Jr., a former officer with the Stamford, Connecticut Police Department and now a private investigator. Sutton will read from his book A Cop’s Life, while Colucci Jr. will read from Rogue Town, his account of working undercover to topple organized crime in Stamford, which he co-authored with Dennis N. Griffin.

As compelling as the authors’ stories are, the artists could steal the show. Meegan Boiros and Michael Davies will be painting live, on a shared stage, as the authors read aloud.

“It’s a unique experience,” Miller says. “You’re watching a one-of-a-kind artwork unfold on canvas right in front of you. Words evoke a dream state in the listener as well as the painter.”

Both are seasoned local artists, so the match should be a good one. Boiros, a member of the Las Vegas Artists Guild, is an art instructor for Pinot’s Palette in the District. And Davies was recently named the 2015 Las Vegas RAW Artist of the Year.

The Painted Stories format has evolved over time. Initially, as many as four writers read short stories while a single artist painted a unique artwork for each one. The process has since been refined, Miller says.

“Having only two readers makes it easier on the artists,” Miller says. “Now the artist has 25 minutes to paint, rather than just 10 to 15.”

And those 25 minutes are like nothing else you’ve seen, promises Miller.

“Except for sound of the authors reading, you can hear a pin drop in the room. The audience is mesmerized, giving both reader and artist their undivided attention.”

Considering today’s technology-blunted attention spans, that’s almost more extraordinary than the tales of Mafia, murder and mayhem.

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