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MGM Is Commissioning Work by Local Artists for Its National Harbor Casino

A rendering of Alice Aycock's "Whirpools," which will be placed at the casino's entry.

Despite months of construction left before its slated opening at the end of 2016, MGM Resorts has already settled on one of its main suppliers of décor at its casino and hotel National Harbor: Washington artists. The $1.3 billion resort will commission local sculptors, photographers, and mixed-media artists, as well as some international artists, to produce works that will be placed in and around the 23-acre complex’s hotel, gaming floor, terrace, pool, and retail promenade.

“An unparalleled art program that exemplifies the diversity of the region and captures the spirit of MGM National Harbor, while also being accessible and engaging for everyone, has been a part of our vision from the very beginning,” MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren,, in a press release.

The commissioned pieces include a trio of 60-foot-tall stainless steel figures from 90-year-old DC sculptor John Safer and a wall-mounted interpretation of the National Harbor’s “environs” using soil from the resort’s building site by Prince George’s County sculptor and ceramicist Margaret Boozer. Also planned are nature-inspired photos from local photographer Ronald Beverly, works from abstract painter Sam Gilliam—an associate of the Washington Color School that thrived in the 1950s and ’60s—and a mosaic for one of the casino’s walls by Corcoran Gallery contributor Martha Jackson Jarvis.

MGM has a strategy for where to place these pieces, too. Safer’s towering figures—along with an 80-foot long aluminum sculpture by New York artist Alice Aycock called “Whirlpools”will be situated outside the hotel’s porte-cochère, making it the first thing any potential guests may see upon arriving.

Another peak at Alice Aycock's "Whirlpools."
Another peak at Alice Aycock’s “Whirlpools.”
John Safer's trio of steel sculptures that will greet guests upon arrival. Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International.
John Safer’s trio of steel sculptures.