By Jacqueline Monahan
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A.R.T. evolution’s Summer Showcase Features Two Originals

On July 14th, the corporate offices of the marketing firm BRAND, Ltd transformed into a Summer Showcase of art and accessories.  Artists Mitchell Todd and designer Stella Vittorio complemented each other’s work by featuring shoes and handbags, respectively.

Red Leather Vittorio Shoulder Bag
photo credit:  John Hardin

Whether it’s something to hang on your arm, or something to hang on your wall, one of these artists has got you covered.

Stella Vittorio, originally from Eritrea (the Northern part of Ethiopia), presented her original handbag designs in price ranges from $35 -$350.  From cases to clutches to large, roomy overnight carry-alls, the handbags come in an array of colors, textures, and styles.

Artist/Designer Stella Vittorio with Leather Heart Bag
photo credit:  John Hardin

Vittorio is inspired by texture and comes up with her designs based on what she needs at the moment.  She is always on the lookout for new and different material to use.  The most unusual?  Carpet samples.  You can see them incorporated into her line of clutches.  Some of the bigger bags are cover in hair-on-cowhide, a natural version of leather.

Hair-on-Cowhide Large Handbag
photo credit:  John Hardin

Finished leather in colors like red, orange and mint green make large straps, piping, and closures for the handbags.  Vittorio puts them together in original ways, getting inspiration from what she needs to carry, not from what other designers do.  For example, she’s in the process of creating a fashionable i-pod cover that resembles a clutch.

Black Leather and Carpet = Fashion
photo credit:  John Hardin

Her smallest creations hold the essentials of a purse (keys, cell-phone, credit cards) and are suitable for stashing in a larger bag until you need to dash out the door; everything you need is already packed in a small, convenient case that can dangle from your wrist from its leather cord.

Small Red Clutch
photo credit:  John Hardin

Vittorio is a finalist in the Las Vegas Business Press 4th annual Green Awards, nominated in the Best Green Practices, Products category for her use of recyclable, eco-friendly material in her designs.  Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Springs Preserve on Friday, July 22.

Another Las Vegas original (by way of Columbus, Georgia) is artist Mitchell Todd, whose paintings exhibit the largest range of disparate styles that your humble correspondent has ever encountered.

Untitled, Oil on Canvas
photo credit:  John Hardin

Inspired at an early age by Salvador Dali’s surrealist work (think The Persistence of Memory’s melting clocks or The Accommodations of Desire’s rock images) Todd set about the mission of creating his own artistic vision.  His work can be an homage to a master (he’s got his own versions of masterpieces by Dali, Picasso, and Da Vinci) but he can just as easily compose an original creation full of devastating social commentary or comedic satire. 

Venice, Oil on Canvas
photo credit:  John Hardin

There’s also his collection of celebrity images in oil on canvas, from the great Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) to Bob Marley, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner, Elton John, and even Slash, the top-hat wearing, chain-smoking former lead guitarist of Guns n’ Roses.

Slasher, Oil on Canvas (Sold)
photo credit:  John Hardin
Shoes Cubed, Oil on Canvas
photo credit:  John Hardin

High-heeled pumps appear in many of his paintings (a perfect complement to Vittorio’s handbags) and he admits he has a bit of an obsession with them.  Oil on canvas is his preferred medium, but he will allow the project to dictate the materials.  For example, his own personal favorite piece (and mine) Basquiat, is composed of acrylic on wood as a nod to that artist’s way of incorporating “found” items into his work.

Mitchell Todd and Basquiat, Wood on Acrylic
photo credit:  John Hardin

Todd has his own gallery in the Arts Factory in downtown Las Vegas.  Just J Gallery features a vast array of the artist’s collection (about 300 paintings) and includes the surreal, the cartoon, the comic-book, the superhero, and Todd’s own commentary on all of these.  He may incorporate the familiar, but the message is all Todd, and it packs a painterly punch.

Cinderella, Oil on Canvas
photo credit:  John Hardin
Once Upon a Time, Oil on Canvas
photo credit:  John Hardin

Always an original and a brave one at that, Todd took heat over some of his chosen role models and musical preferences.  Roy Rogers?  Ambrosia?  Todd stood his ground.  The Air Force veteran and UNLV Fine Art major follows his own creative path and defends his selections, saying “That’s what I like.”

The wide range of Todd’s work practically guarantees that you’ll find something to like, too.

Untitled, Oil on Wood
photo credit:  John Hardin

About The Odyssey Foundation:

The Odyssey Lifestyle’s charitable arm, The Odyssey Foundation (under the aegis of the National Heritage Foundation) uses Las Vegas’ annual Odyssey events (a world of food and wine combined with the visual, musical and performing arts) to raise money for charities, which include the Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu School culinary scholarship program and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

During the Summer Showcase, for example, both artists donated 25% of all sales to the Odyssey Scholarship Program to benefit Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts students.

Founded by Mark and Virginia Martino in 2000, The Odyssey Lifestyle also includes an event planning division and other ancillary professional assets, including the resources of BRAND, Ltd., a full service integrated marketing firm established by the Martinos. All divisions of The Odyssey Lifestyle are based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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