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Kat Tatz brings a bit of her 'Wonderland' to the Las Vegas Strip

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Posted at 12:25 PM, Sep 17, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — If you think Las Vegas is a trip, Kat Tatz is inviting you to go deeper down the rabbit hole.

The homegrown artist recently won Park West Gallery's first-ever Made in Vegas art competition, beating out nearly 500 impressive submissions.

And true to its name, Tatz is a longtime Vegas local inspired by the city where she grew up.

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Bringing the Fantasy to the Reality

"With all the neon signs, I mean, that's the first thing that I remember when my mom drove me into Vegas when I was four," she recalled. "The turquoise color of Caesars Palace was unbelievable. It was night."

"I use that color in a lot of my paintings now," she said. "Even to this day. It's like one of my favorites."

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A common theme in her work? Lewis Carroll's fantasy tale "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

"A lot of my paintings depict a different viewpoint of Alice in Wonderland. Like, I'll have her a lot of times transitioning," she explained.

In the piece below and to the far right, for example, Tatz says she painted Alice transitioning into the White Rabbit. "She's growing the fur and she has the ears coming down, but she's still Alice."

Tatz's style is broad and her work uses a wide range of techniques.

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"I do pop surrealism art, lowbrow art, I kind of like the fantasy and a lot of impressionism as well. So I like to change up a bit when I get bored," she said with a laugh.

Just look at her submissions for the Made in Vegas competition.

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From left to right: a portrait of Stevie Nicks, a scene using characters from Lewis Carroll's fantasy "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" in which the work continues from the frame onto the canvas, and on the far right, a painting of Alice transitioning into the White Rabbit. Artwork by Kat Tatz.

The portrait of Stevie Nicks, on the far left, could almost have been painted by someone else when compared to the two "Alice in Wonderland" pieces on the right. It was not, of course. All three were made by Tatz.

In one of her submissions, centered above, the painting continues from the canvas onto the frame.

"I like to take the fantasy and bring it out to the reality, which is the frame to me," she said. "It gives me an opportunity to tell another story that's separate from the painting."

A Hospital Stay

When she submitted her work for Made in Vegas, she says it didn't go down as you might assume.

"You're gonna laugh," Kaz said with a smile. "I had a hospital stay a couple of months ago." (At this point, I can't say I was laughing just yet.)

"You know, I was so out of it and I was scrolling through Facebook because there's nothing else to do," she chuckled. "And I saw the Made in Vegas art competition."

"Right then, I'm like so delirious, right? But I'm applying for it." It was at this moment when she sent in her three pictures of choice.

"When I got accepted and they told me that I was one of the ten finalists," Katz said holding back laughter, "I couldn't remember what I sent in! I was so out of it."

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Over and Over and Over and Over

Another thing about Tatz, she's largely self-taught and has been practicing for decades.

"My dad and my mom got divorced when I was four, so he very rarely came to see me," she said. "But the one memory that I do have is he taught me how, at four years old, how to measure out a face, and what the dimensions were and how to line it out."

"Then, when he left--I had a hero worship on him by the way--when he left, I just did that over and over and over and over."

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On the left, Kat's dad and mom sit on a beach. On the right, young Kat Tatz poses for a photograph. (Kat Tatz)

Her mom was also an artist.

"My mom was a doll sculpture, so she would make porcelain dolls and compete in competitions," she said. "She always won."

Tatz studied at UNLV and has received additional formal training by attending artist workshops around the country, which overlaps with another passion of hers.

"I like to travel. That's like my favorite thing."

She even has an international presence with work on view at Art Space & Design in Canada.

She also has work featured at Las Laguna Gallery in Laguna Beach, California.

Closer to home, you can find her work at Animazing Gallery inside the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, ART2art Gallery inside Tivoli Village, inside Allegiant Stadium and of course at Park West Gallery inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

The Pandemic

Tatz used to have her own gallery, Wonderland Gallery, which she owned for several years.

"I feel like I learned so much from owning a gallery."

But then, COVID-19 hit Las Vegas right as her lease was up. She didn't renew.

"I got really lucky," she said. "It just worked out. I'm starting to turn around."

Tatz says business actually got busier when she increased her online presence after closing the brick-and-mortar location down.

"I kept the name because I love--even my website--I love it. WonderlandGallery.com."

The pandemic, only emphasizing one of the reasons Tatz says art is so important for society.

"I think that art is incredibly historical in a way," she said. "It shows where the current trends are."

If you look closely at one of her Park West paintings, you'll find characters of "Alice in Wonderland" wearing masks, the White Rabbit, dangling his from his fingers.

Where to Find Her Work

You can follow Kat Tatz on Instagram at @kattatz. Find her artwork here:

Learn more about Tatz's work at WonderLandGallery.com.

This story is from our "Las Vegas Art Scene" segment in our newly-launched dedicated digital show "How to Vegas." Watch "How to Vegas" at 10:30 p.m. on Fridays -- and throughout the weekend -- using the KTNV app on your favorite streaming device.