Las Vegas is the “Wedding Capital of the World,” and now it looks that way with a hip, new mural outside the Clark County Marriage License Bureau designed by artist and Las Vegas native Jerry Misko.
Through Misko’s dynamic style, the mural gives viewers that unique thrill of being in Fabulous Las Vegas. Layered images of historic neon wedding chapel signs bring back the old glamor of getting married in “Sin City.”
“I have a huge love affair with Las Vegas and always have,” Misko says. “I’d like for [viewers] to feel my love for Vegas while they’re feeling the love for their significant others.”
Titled “Sweetheart,” the mural is crowned with an image of Las Vegas’ most iconic bride and groom: Elvis and Priscilla Presley. In fact, Misko’s insider connections helped him secure the perfect wedding pic of the iconic couple: the Presleys cutting their wedding cake at The Aladdin. The 1967 photo comes from the private collection of the now-bygone resort’s late executive chef Bjorn Jaeger. That chef happens to be the father of one of Misko’s friends.
Look carefully at the mural, and you may find an “Easter Egg” that Misko placed as an homage to Jaeger. Hint: Search for a man’s face near the table.
While many talented artists call Las Vegas home, Misko was the perfect choice for this commission. “I celebrate this city that I live in,” says Misko, whose dad worked in the casino industry for 40 years and whose Mom worked at the Stardust in the ’80s. “That’s what my art does.”
In a way, Misko is his art. He certainly lives that spectacular life that he paints. “I am, at heart, a pretty hedonistic dude,” Misko says. “I enjoy the [visceral] things life has to offer: food, wine, sex, food, gambling. All those things that Vegas represents to the world, I hold deeply in my heart.”
Granted, as he gets older, the spectacle happens more on his canvas than at the clubs. “I’m not quite the heathen that I used to be,” Misko says. “I’m an aging hedonist, just kicking back, enjoying my family.”
Still, one light that will never dim is Misko’s love of neon. It’s the subject of countless Misko paintings. “To me, [neon] is kind of like Monet’s water lilies,” Misko says. Growing up in Southern Nevada, Misko says that “these big, amazing neon signs populate your geography” and “they just stuck in my brain.” As an adult, Misko says that neon was “the backdrop of my social life—coming out of casinos, half-cocked, bleary-eyed at 4 a.m and these amazing neon structures are humming in the air behind you.”
Unlike LEDs or video screens, neon has a certain physicality that appeals to Misko. “They’re visceral, they’re not just light,” Misko says. “It’s electrified gas, so on some level, they breathe. They have that hum, and the vibrancy and warmth that LED lacks.” For all its brightness, neon is also painfully fragile. All those colors emanate from thin glass tubes.
Misko concedes that the new generation of LEDs and towering video screens are neat, but they just can’t compare to the authenticity of neon: “LED does some cool stuff, but neon is almost a living thing.”
As technology barrels forward, true neon has become something of a rarity in Las Vegas. And Misko has become more determined to preserve its warm glow in his art.
For a person enamored with antiquated machinery, Misko’s artistic process is surprisingly modern. “Everything that I do starts as a digital illustration,” he says. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are his programs of choice. “Usually, the creative heavy lifting is already done by the time I actually see paint, so it’s a fun, modern process.” Once the design is determined, Misko then realizes it in artist’s acrylic, spray paint or, in the case of this mural, a printed wrap for easy installation.
As for his own Vegas wedding, Misko says it’s on the horizon. The longtime bachelor is now engaged! His bride-to-be is also a native Las Vegan, and they plan to “play up the Vegas-ness” in the celebration. While Misko once dressed as Elvis in the ’90s for an MGM promotional event, he currently has no plans to include an Elvis in his ceremony. The details are otherwise still hazy. But whatever they choose, it’s sure to be Vegas fabulous!
Above all, Misko says that Las Vegas is the best place to get married, no matter who you are: “You’re doing something that’s going to bind you together with someone for the rest of your life, so you might as well do it somewhere that’s outside your normal scope of life,” Misko says of Las Vegas. “It’s such a great place to celebrate.”
For more information about Jerry Misko, visit jerrymisko.com.