VEGASMAMA: Kim Bavington
At the tender age of three months, this native-Berkeley babe made her entrance onto the scene of Las Vegas. Born of artist parents, her father, Rudy Crisostomo, worked up the sign company ranks for 35 years and eventually became a bigwig at YESCO signs; Crisostomo was co-creator of my personal favorite piece of Strip history, the Stardust sign...those falling stars! that lettering! the purple & pink! Picture Kim as a child, daily she watched her father draw as he created subtle greatness that turned into awe-inspired reality. Imagine, a 15-story tall glowing work of art! Kim has been forever touched by his talent; it left an indelible, inspirational mark in her creative brain.
Kim grew up strong and she grew up fearless, a self-sufficient, forward-thinking beach babe who thrived living in this desert space we call home. Before she was 23 she founded & operated her own graphic design business, employed four (4!) full-time employees and rented 3 Mac computers for her business (because this was the land before Mac had Geniuses and the only pad you toted around was an ode to Auntie Flo). She was known to zip around town on either her yellow ten-speed or in her convertible turquoise & white VW convertible bug (hello Vegas' version of Phoebe Cates..both total eighties Goddesses). An Alumna of the UNLV BFA program who was blessed to study under Rita Abby with a Devos Scholarship and of The Sorbonne in Paris (in that order), Kim can tell you why Louis Vuitton doesn't always use leather, why it's appropriate for the French to dry-clean instead of launder and the imperative necessity of a good shoe. Kim knows quality. She has an eye for it. She is it.
Kim has got style. She's got style for days. Rather, for decades. This VEGASMAMA decided to buy her home in the late 1990's, when Casino execs in Downtown Vegas were selling their palatial old-school-custom-glam-estates and moving west. Upon entrance onto the Bavington’s property, you’re greeted by double orange, maybe red, doors. I pressed on both the doorbells and heard 9-year old Lily from the other side (the eldest of the twins, Jet is her younger brother by two minutes), “mom, the doorbell! mom, the doooooorrrrbellllll!”. I’m standing there anticipating the opening of such a grand home with a grand Las Vegas Family. However humble they are, they ARE Vegas royalty. Upon entrance, the space took my breath away. A 4,500sf abode with an indoor atrium so bright it'll make you swoon (the master bedroom is seen through the glass) and a pool so deep, you haven't experienced that aquatic thrill since your grandparent's backyard. Vintage bottles collected in a non-cluttered, fresh fashion you can ride down her curated rainbow of translucence. Jet & Lily's triptych painting, Baymax, hangs in the living room and rivals the artwork on Chelsea District walls today. Succulents in all the right corners. Furniture to die for, one-of-a-kind; “Most of my furniture is vintage” she tells me, as I swoon over her rope-outdoor chaise lounges, except for the dining table and kids’ indoor playhouse which were Bavington-made, of course. Everything is clean. Everything is thoughtful. Everything is well done. This is Kim.
Kim's sister, Melina, had the same entrepreneurial spirit as Kim, she founded and ran Retro Vintage Clothing on Valley View Blvd. (near Charleston) before eBay snagged the best of what vintage aficionados had to offer...the sacred art of knowing what was cool in a heap of discarded treasures. That's how Kim met the papa of their twins, Tim Bavington. One day he was shopping in (sister's) store for inspiring patterns and they got to talking about art, culture, design, etc. Kim had previously blown off friends who suggested Tim as she thought he had a girlfriend (Vegas was a small town and they knew about a million people in common already) but her sister found he was single, insisted he meet Kim as they shared so many commonalities; long story short he invited her to Spago's in The Forum Shops that next evening, a gooseberry no more(!)... and that was over twenty years ago. Bavington's become an internationally acclaimed artist; his large-scale outdoor sculpture, Pipe Dream, resides on the lawn of The Smith Center.
You can literally feel Kim's brain vibrating when you walk into her creative space. A fluffy, darkly carpeted yet cool home office holds her treasures; Kim’s muted teal handprint from when she was five-years old, a Quadrophenia circled vortex from Tim, family photos & their travels, Bozart's Kaleidoscope House, Vivienne Westwood anthology that takes center-stage over the other glossy pop encyclopedias. I imagine she has drawers full of thank you letters, wedding invitations and gifted mini-masterpieces from her near three decades of students (we'll get to her vocation in a moment...).
Sitting down is a misnomer for Kim, she bops through her home like a sparky lightning bolt electrifying each & every corner she touches. Some say she is a gift from the Muse heavens, other relish in her art history knowledge unparalleled by our contemporary art historians, and everyone always, always feels her passion. 32 years of aerobic instructing around the globe has gifted her with the rubber band effect, no matter her age (over 50 and, ahem, and amazing) she snaps back with an illuminated zest. I swear, you’d think Kim was barely over thirty and I’m not referencing the injected youth of today’s mid-lifers, I’m talking about the absolute power that is curiosity coupled with wisdom with a dash of eccentric expression and all-around genius. This is the woman behind so many successes.
Kim founded Art Classes for Kids in 1990
It’s no surprise that this VEGASMAMA has had her tentacles in the Vegas Art Scene all her life. Her prowess to offer art education to children has spanned generations of Las Vegans and her passion to bring creative learning and artistic interpretation, spatial intelligence and self-led expression is the backbone of her belief system. In her Art Classes for Kids, Kim offers group art classes (led from her in-home Art Room), private lessons, art parties and art camps. They're educational, fun, children keep busy and there's music; she schedules four musical themes per day and introduces her students to the likes of ska, raggae, funk, folk, disco, techno, motown, movie soundtracks, swing & hip-hop, etc etc etc. Kim's been teaching art for so long she used to make mixed tapes for her classes, now it’s set on Pandora; nobody argues and everybody enjoys.
Kids do a warm-up every morning, a quick still-life drawing meant for the children to learn to see rather than draw...a sophisticated concept and however their initial timidness, it always works; they do begin to see. If the weather permits, some tables are put outside on the real grass. They even have an art show the final day of camp.
Kim's clients are on repeat like your favorite record, there are many who grew up taking classes from Kim (led from her in-home Art Studio!) when they were 5-12 years old, graduate to her "Volunteer Program" when they're 13-16 then, when they can drive, they're promoted to paid employee status until high school graduation when they're off to college. How difficult is it for teenagers to gain employment? On the schedule they require? You want your kids to work with Kim, the success stories run the gamut from Art Directors to Fashion Designers to Fine Artists, Doctors, Lawyers, Playwrights, Photographers, doers, self-starters, movers & shakers & Valedictorians. That's the thing about Kim. She's a promoter of talent and her no fluff approach teaches the kids valuable life lessons; she reflects on her own experiences as her own priceless, well-earned wisdom when she simultaneously held down three jobs all the while a full-time student at UNLV:
- an aerobics instructor
- be active, be motivated, be lively, be engaging; everybody is looking at you! channel your inner Pied Piper, talk about how fun it is, do the best you can and you can lead
- professional model
- decorum, presentation, first impressions are priceless
- hostess at The Tillerman...the place to be for any UNLV hotel admin student
- no matter your mood, your terrible day, your dismay with the world around you...greet everyone with a smile and make them feel at home. this is your job, this is your commitment; know how to be present
Kim’s in-home Art Studio, this exhilarating kiddie classroom, will go down in the halls of Art History as the maker of supreme talent. Tim Bavington spent the first seven years of his painting career producing artwork (in this room!) that is now a part of The Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection, the triptych masterpiece Baymax painted by then five-year olds Jet & Lily were also produced here and, of course, the decades-long memories made from Vegas Native Sons & Daughters creating their way through Kim's Art Classes for Kids.
You want Kim Bavington to teach art to your children.
Kim is one of those VEGASMAMAS I like to think of as a community-builder, invested in not only making Vegas a better place for adults but children alike, she reminds me of the Lisa Bonet of the Vegas fine art world. She’s got her own thing going on, has positively influenced generations of budding Las Vegans and the father of their children, Tim Bavington, is our internationally acclaimed local art hero. She has illuminated our community with knowledge, intention and taught us how to create & showcase art for all to enjoy. Thank you, Kim, it was a pleasure.
If I could describe Kim Bavington in emojis, yes, emojis (because why not as it’s our culture’s current go-to, sped-up, straight-shooting vernacular!), I’d use the:
lightning bolt : because nobody does it faster, better, smarter or with more conviction than Kim
artist canvas: for almost thirty years she's taught our native Vegas sons & daughters the fine art of artistic expression
purple heart: she finds a solution rather than dwells on the problem, she enjoys lifting up rather than cutting down
lightbulb: this VEGASMAMA has got nothing but illuminated goodness; innovative ideas are her forté
illuminated hands: as Malcolm Gladwell would say, she's a Connector
rocket + cookie: as her son Jet is so aptly named and her daughter, Lily, is quite the baker
Kim, thank you for allowing me to induct you into the VEGASMAMAS cyber-village; you're a well curated explosion of intellectual artistry. Cookie Lily, I loved your birthday brownies. Rocket Jet, keep on dancing on! love, desiree
To book classes for your child(ren), go to www.artclassesforkids.com
words & (most) photos by desiree. kim and the incredible staff at Art Classes for Kids, thank you for your images.