Is it an Optometry office or a museum?
Working late one night putting this store together for the grand opening of Downtown Summerlin, I received a call from New York. It was a publisher who wanted to know when they could expect photos of the new location because they had already heard about Eyes & Optics and had selected it as one of the top five independent eyewear retailers in America, before it opened! Since then, the shop has really created a buzz among those who design eyewear, and our clients who crave something new. Eyes & Optics was voted Best Eyewear Shop and Best Eye Doctor in the Las Vegas Review Journal Best of Las Vegas. It all started with necessity. And necessity is a mother.
In 2012, Downtown Summerlin was delayed five years by bankruptcy and recession. At one point all three of our landlords were bankrupt, and our banks failed. Without support and a reliable timeframe, we wondered how to build a world-class location. There was no budget for professional designers, and I didn’t want to hurt another one of them anyway. Searching through the garage and storage units, through thirty years of furniture, showcases and memorabilia from record stores, Vegas hotels, showrooms, recording studios and radio stations, I was lost in a mess of random, unmatched items. It was jack. And, of course, that was it. These were the props of my life. Put them on stage. Eyes & Optics is a stage. The stars are our wonderful clients and friends, many quite familiar with stages, and the best independent designers in the world. We get so many comments and questions about the shop and its eclectic collection, I thought I should ‘splain, Lucy.
All the furniture is resourced from imploded Vegas hotels like the Dunes and the Riviera. The blackjack table was in the Sands Hotel. Frank may have walked by it. The lighting comes from my studio, from an old sunglass shop I owned, and some of it comes from the La Cage theatre! There’s a red velvet cord from Crazy Girls, and some road weary rock and roll stage rugs, curtains and showcases from our shop previously in Caesars Palace, and a classic Leslie speaker cabinet without a single cigarette burn. The JBL speakers fell off a truck in Hoboken.
We rotate pieces from my rare eyeglass collection including some of the work of our departed friend, Dennis Roberts, who was featured in Life Magazine as the first celebrity optician, having created all the famous styles for Elton John and Elvis back in the terrible 70’s, some of which we have on display. There are also pieces we made for Sir Elton including a red air titanium Lindberg engraved with the Red Piano logo, several French runway styles from Mikli and la Roche, dripping with stones and catitude, and many pieces from the birth of the mid-century aluminum age.
We are blessed to care for some of the most interesting musicians, performers and characters living in the city, some legendary, some overshadowed in the background, and some forsaken by the industry, characters all. They have great stories to tell, from working with the Rat Pack, to riding the Wringling Bros clown train, to sitting by the fire with Bonnie at Bonnie Springs, to helping Tom Young put the Flamingo neon sign up while Bugsy looked on, to turning down a marriage proposal from Ringo! The drum pedal given to me by Frank Rinella was built with recycled illegal materials during war rationing. He wore the steel down with his bare feet in a Philly club. The jewelry case was made for us by Monte Rock, the most frequent guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Thank you to all of them for helping add to our collection. There are ghosts.
I hope you enjoy the collection. There is no charge for admission! I have included a partial inventory as well.
RARE EYEGLASS POSTERS high above the reception desk
Elton John for Oliver Peoples featuring the only line Sir Elton personally designed, for the benefit of his foundation.
Andre Agassi wearing the original American made Ray Ban and a horrible mullet wig
The Matsuda sunglass poster from the original Terminator film. Arnold drove over it on his Harley Fat Boy.
Michael Jordan wearing an Oakley hat while under contract to Nike, the subject of a protracted court case that required us to destroy our copy (aha).
RARE AUTOGRAPHED ROCK N ROLL POSTERS AND VINYL
The Beatles’ Revolver album release poster with the Klaus Voormann cover. This is the last remaining museum quality copy, and the best Beatle album, right?
The original black light acrylic image of Muddy Waters that hung in the legendary Sand Dollar Blues Lounge since Elvis was racing his Rolls down Paradise.
The last advertising image ever published of Ron Goldman (for the first Giorgio Armani eyeglass line) before he was killed by an unknown assailant.
The very first Chris Shaw MoonAlice poster from the Bay Area supergroup for their debut concert, with guests, Melancholics.
An original pencil sketch of Miles Davis. Thank you to Rosia Davis. My personal favorite.
There are many autographed posters spanning the history of pop music featuring the work of noted graphic artists Rick Griffin, Chris Shaw, Lee Conklin and John Myers, known for their work for the Who, Greatful Dead and Yes.
My personal autographed vinyl collection with rarities from the classic CTI catalog, the jazz age, and early rock and a collection of flyers and posters from the 90’s music scene in Las Vegas, at the birth of First Friday, when Brandon Flowers was starting the Killers, the coffee house scene and the college club scene was growing and when my band, Melancholics was very active, the subject of an upcoming indie movie produced by PJ Perez. These were the days of the Moby Grape, Captain A’s, the Troubadour and Calamity Jane’s (until Calamity went to jail for money laundering). I’m told I was there when Nirvana opened their first tour, but there is no evidence.