Wynn Las Vegas carves out special preparations for the Year of the Horse.
As the Year of the Horse gallops into its chronological place in the Chinese horoscope, visitors to Las Vegas will see no other resort properties prepare for the Chinese New Year the way Wynn does. Three 800-pound examples? The gallant horse statues that will proudly greet guests in Wynn’s atriums. Although Executive Vice President of Design for Wynn Design and Development Roger Thomas conceives of an artistic representation for each year’s respective animal, horses are perhaps nearest to his heart. “I love horses,” says Thomas. “I’ve ridden horses since I was a young child.” For Thomas, there was only one way to begin the project. “I identified several of my very favorite horses in the history of Chinese art,” he says. “I’d previously acquired some magnificent Tang Dynasty horses for our company collection,” he says. “So we looked for a proud, beautiful, and, to a certain extent, friendly, Tang horse. We located one, and we are having it carved by a sculptor here in Las Vegas.” Master carver Sillipachai “Mod” Toonrud of Forté Specialty Contractors will make the concept a reality, starting with a small-scale model made from clay. Upon approval by Wynn Design and Development, a fullscale model will be hand-sculpted from a Styrofoam block. The details that are tweaked during the revision process are crucial, says Thomas. “Proportion of the tail, how much curl there is in the mane… I like horses that look like they’ve just noticed you’re there and turned to address you, so that the neck is turned slightly, and they seem aware and attentive,” he says. “It gives them an animation and a liveliness.” The finished Styrofoam sculpture will then be encased in a fiberglassreinforced plastic mold. Finally, the nine-foot-tall, 10-foot-long horses will be painted red and gilded in gold leaf before being positioned in the Wynn atrium. Forté, whose co-owner, Scott Acton, had Treasure Island’s pirate ship built for Steve Wynn decades ago, will oversee the project until its installation. Thomas, meanwhile, has started thinking ahead. “We start working on the animal of the year about 15 months in advance. I’m already looking around for roosters.” n
here and right: Master carver Sillipachai “Mod” Toonrud at Forté Specialty Contractors’ studio in West Las Vegas.