Ruel James

Ruel James & The Mob Experience

Written by Nikki Artale
Photos by Nikki Artale

There is an artistic genius living amongst us in Las Vegas. He is a soft spoken man who exudes his gentleness in his work. His love, respect and admiration of women show through in his paintings and sculptures of the women’s bodies that he creates. The artist is Ruel James, a world known artist and sculptor.

James Ruel’s work is breathtaking and so real that you cannot take your eyes off of his sculptures. I first met Ruel last summer in his studio at the Las Vegas Center of the Arts at 1310 Third St. I went to attend a concert and as I walked past his studio I stopped in my tracks when I saw a table full of heads that he was working on. These heads were of the many gangsters that once ruled and ran the casinos. Organized crime has always been a fascinating subject and to see their heads was both stunning and eye opening. These colorful characters were major players in building Las Vegas and eventually their eradication from the Las Vegas casinos.

The Las Vegas Mob Experience will be opening at the Tropicana in January and Ruel has been commissioned to make the mannequins for the new attraction. Jay Bloom, Managing Partner of Murder, Inc. has partnered up with the Tropicana to bring this interactive technology to Las Vegas. Visitors will experience how the world of organized crime worked here in Las Vegas.
There will be authentic artifacts, memorabilia, videos and pictures of Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegal, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, Sam “Momo” Giancana, Meyer “Mickey” Cohen, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and Tony “The Ant” Spilatro. These detailed heads were made for the lifelike mannequins.

                                                             Virginia Hill
Ruel showed me the steps he took in making the heads. He first creates it in clay, makes a mold and then pours in Resin. After the mold has formed and dried. he hand paints every lifelike detail.

With exceptional skill, he also made the heads to go into a shadow box and when completed, their eyes will follow your every movement as you walk past them in the exhibit.
The Las Vegas Mob Experience tells the story of its early years of the rise and fall of organized crime in Las Vegas by the direct result of the Nevada State Gaming and law enforcement officials. Be on the look out for three decommissioned prison buses driving up and down the strip that will take you to the Tropicana to see the Mob Experience. It may be the only opportunity for you to ride in a prison bus. This summer the Big Brother Bash transported some of the houseguest downtown to Hogs & Heifers
Ruel James was born in Jamaica and then moved to London and then to Las Vegas where he opened a gallery at the Forum Shops. He is known for his car art paintings, celebrity art, female art, black art and sculpture art. Ruel did a celebrity portrait of Hillary Clinton and it is in their private library.
                                       (Ruel A James, son; Sheryl James, wife; Ruel G James)

Here is some exciting news. Ruel will be holding two hour workshops next summer and I am signing up to learn from the master. For further questions you can email Ruel at


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