Las Vegas artist looks to “Portnoy” for stars

From Imagine Dragons to the Goodmans – even 13 Action News’ Tricia Kean – Neal Portnoy is a man on a mission to document the history of entertainment in Las Vegas.

His illustrations are instantly recognizable, which is all the more impressive given his favorite tool.

“No one in the country does what I do”

“You put a brush in my hand and I’m basically useless,” Neal said. “I don’t have the sense.”

But don’t be fooled by its lack of brushstrokes. Neal is a respected artist whose works are on display inside the Allegiant Stadium and in a gallery and studio not far from the Strat.

Inside the Portnoy Gallery you will find around 3,000 felt tip markers.

“I use all the markers,” he said.

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His medium of choice is the one most commonly used for advertising in layout and design renderings, explains Neal. But he uses markers to create realistic illustrations and caricatures of some of the best-known figures in Las Vegas and the United States.

“There is no one in the country doing what I am doing.”

Neal works closely with his wife, Dorothy, who is the administrator of the gallery. She told me he usually uses Chartpak AD markers, which are made for art, but again, in the case of Bob Marley, “This one he decided to do only with the Sharpies. . “

Every day, ordinary Sharpies.

Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News

An illustration by Bob Marley hangs in the Portnoy Gallery in Las Vegas on October 19, 2021. Artist Neal Portnoy completed the design using Sharpie permanent markers. (Amy Abdelsayed, 13 years old Action News)

Celebrity illustrator

Neal is a self-taught artist who moved to Las Vegas about five years ago with a dream.

“That dream was to become the celebrity illustrator,” Neal said.

Throughout his nearly 50-year career as an artist, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t already achieved that dream, at least to some extent. “I’ve illustrated everyone from Frank Sinatra in 1974 to Jack Nicklaus to Ted Williams and Jay Leno.”

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Neal Portnoy

Neal Portnoy stands next to Jay Leno, who is holding an illustration Neal made for the talk show host and stand-up comic. (Neal Portnoy)

Portnoy Wall of Honor: the who’s who of Las Vegas

Shortly after moving to Las Vegas, the Portnoys created the “Portnoy Wall of Honor”.

“When we first moved in here he was like, ‘Oh, I want to meet so-and-so, so let me make a caricature of him,'” Dorothy said of how Neal got there. started to represent some of the most recognized figures in the Las Vegas community.

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On the wall you will find dozens of familiar faces. The people who make Vegas Vegas.

People like Carrot Top, Penn and Teller, the Goodmans, and even 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean.

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Neal Portnoy

Left to Right: An illustration of stand-up comedian Carrot Top, Neal holds an illustration from 13 Action News Anchor Tricia Kean, an illustration of magicians Penn and Teller. All illustrations by Neal Portnoy.

“It’s Mona,” Dorothy said, showing a woman with a silver tiara in her hair looking into a crystal ball.

Hanging on the wall above the door is a cartoon of Mystic Mona, the Vegas psychic with her own radio show and who appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in a Bachelor Party from 2019.

“Mona got up at the meeting one day and said, ‘You haven’t arrived if you haven’t been’ Portnoyed ‘,” Dorothy said with a smile. “So she’s our founder of’ Portnoyed ‘ . “

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Neal Portnoy

An illustration of Mystic Mona, a Las Vegas medium, created by Neal Portnoy.

From there, they decided to create a Wall of Honor for everyone who was “Portnoyed,” which ultimately led to an induction ceremony. Their very first took place in 2018.

This month, they held their fourth induction ceremony at the gallery with around 140 people in attendance, all in attendance to celebrate the 2021 class of the “Portnoyed Wall of Honor”.

But, the ceremony also turned out to be a very special day for Neal.

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Mayor Goodman’s proclamation

“I’m always emotional when I say that,” Neal told me.

“October 7, 2021 has been proclaimed by Mayor Carolyn Goodman as ‘Portnoy Gallery Day’ in Las Vegas,” he said. “Forever.”

Mayor Goodman was present at the event and presented him with the honor in person, calling Neal’s work “fabulous”.

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Mayor Carolyn Goodman, @MayorOfLasVegas

Neal and Dorothy Portnoy receive an official proclamation from the mayor. Mayor Carolyn Goodman declared October 7 “Portnoy Gallery Day” in Las Vegas starting in 2021. (Mayor Carolyn Goodman, @MayorOfLasVegas)

Imagine Dragons Partnership, give back

With all this influence he’s gained, Neal also makes sure to use his talent to give back to the community.

“This is the original work,” said Neal, displaying an illustration from one of the most successful rock groups in town. “The original will be signed here by Imagine Dragons, auctioned off at their year-end gala to collect 100% of the proceeds.”

This is money that will go to the Tyler Robinson Foundation, a non-profit organization created in part by Imagine Dragons to help families fight the costs of childhood cancer.

“I guess I guess Dan [Reynolds] is going to make an offer and want to own the original design, ”Neal said with a smile.

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Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News

An Imagine Dragons illustration by Neal Portnoy. The top will be signed by the band and auctioned off for charity on October 22, 2021. All proceeds will be donated to the Tyler Robinson Foundation. (Amy Abdelsayed, 13 years old Action News)

The Rise Up Gala will take place on Friday, October 22 inside the Wynn. The live auction will start at 7.15pm, followed by an acoustic performance by the group, which the association says will be streamed live online. You can learn more about it here.

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But he doesn’t need a black tie to give back. Neal also likes to support young artists who visit his gallery.

He said he liked to take them to the drawing board.

“We do a work of art together or they bring me something that they wanted me to see,” he said, “and I said, ‘Would you mind if I put it on my wall. child? Now you can go back to see all your friends. and tell them, you have a work of art in a gallery in Las Vegas! ‘ “

How Neal Became an Entertainment Artist

When Neal was a child himself, he said he viewed entertainment as his ticket to a better life.

“We grew up very poor,” he said. “It was my way of getting out of projects, of being funny. I get away with my baseball skills, my developed artistic skills, and being funny is a way, you know, to get people out. of their basic structure. “

Decades later, he’s doing some pretty big business as an artist. Take the piece purchased by the Las Vegas Raiders for the Allegiant Stadium, “Raiders Through the Years”.

“They are the biggest names in Raider history,” said Neal. He says the room is the stadium’s largest piece of art to date.

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Neal Portnoy

Neal Portnoy stands in front of his works on display inside the Allegiant Stadium. (Neal Portnoy)

“It was a high resolution scan,” he explained. “The original was 18×24. It measures 28×40 feet at Allegiant Stadium. So the high-resolution scan, they blast it up, basically becomes wallpaper. It’s wallpaper.”

Most recently, Neal was one of the three finalists in the Park West Gallery’s Made in Vegas contest. He didn’t win the grand prize, but he still landed a contract.

“It’s the first art gallery in the world and they want to represent me. How cool is that?”

See his work in person near The Strat

The Portnoys are expanding the gallery and Neal’s publicist Ron Garrett calls it a “must see attraction” for locals and tourists alike in Las Vegas.

“It’s worth a visit because you’ll see things here that you can’t see anywhere else,” Garrett said. “All original art, all from Neal’s mind.”

All original and hundreds of them.

“I’ve illustrated about 300 of the artists here in Vegas in five years,” Neal said.

With so many rooms to explore, even the most seasoned travelers to Las Vegas are sure to meet a local headliner like they’ve never seen her before.

The Portnoy Gallery is located at 1537 West Oakey Boulevard in Las Vegas. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (702) 685-2929 or visit portnoygallery.com to learn more.

This story is taken from our “Las Vegas Art Scene” segment in our brand new 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.

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