Talk about your weird obsessions--David G. Schwartz, who runs the Gaming Studies Research Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, is really into casino carpets (here's a link to his online casino carpet gallery. He says on his site: "In my quest to launch casino carpet hermeneutics as a legitimate academic discourse. I delivered
a paper on it at an academic conference. Seriously. If you were at the 2005 Far West Popular Culture Association conference in Las Vegas, you might have seen my presentation 'Art for Gamblers' Feet: Casino Carpets from Coast to Coast.'"
He also waxes downrlight lyrical about the rugs:
Casino carpet is known as an exercise in deliberate bad taste that somehow encourages people to gamble.
In a strange way, though, it's s sublime work of art, rivalling any expressionist canvas of the past century. Note the regal tones of Caesars Palace, the bountiful bouquet of Mandalay Place, the soft, almost abstract pointilism of Paris, all whispering, "gamble, gamble" just out of the range of consciousness as people walk to the nearest slot machine.Many of the carpets use flowers and wheels, both suggestive of a cyclical life: flowers bud, bloom, and then die, and their beauty is only ephemeral. The wheel was famous to the Romans (note its prominence at Caesars Palace) as a symbol of the relentless capriciousness of fortune. Could both be subtle reminders to casino patrons that life and luck are fleeting, and one should eat, drink, and be merry before the morrow brings a swing in fortune?
I guess I'll have to pay more attention to my surroundings next time I'm in Vegas! Who knows what other objects of beauty may be right under my nose--err, feet.