We are so honored to have been selected for a feature by Humans of Las Vegas! Thank you for your support of CREATE and of our Arts Community! Visit the Humans of Las Vegas Facebook page HERE.
Evangelina Duke-Petroni, Owner - CREATE
"Sometimes, I feel like the cat who’s lived nine lives. I haven’t died at the end of each one, but each version is a part of who I am. I’m a frontier child, mother, wife, marathon runner, beauty queen, entrepreneur and art creator. There is a lot of life that I’ve crammed into each of my 32 years.
I grew up in rural Montana with every experience you can imagine a small town kid has. I was homeschooled, my 8th grade had only 8 kids in it, and I graduated high school when I was 16. Growing up, I realized how large and diverse Montana really is - it gave me a childhood that was wild and free in the vast openness of the state and yet, everywhere has a small town feel. I love that.
Montana is a heartbeat to me, it is my blood. I was so proud to have the opportunity to represent Montana in Miss America in 2004 in Atlantic City. I competed three times at our state level. Every year that I competed, I earned scholarship money for college. Serving as Miss Montana, I grew into my wings - I spent the year speaking to over 50,000 students in 350+ schools against bullying while learning how deep my community ties run.
I realized during that year, that the role of Miss Montana - as all earned roles - is bigger than one person. It was a title that was mine to take care of, cherish and steward. It was in my care to guard and then pass along. To realize the impact I could have on another person, and in service to my community was extremely humbling and empowering. I didn’t take that lightly and I told every child if they wrote me I would right them back - I hand wrote every single one. I still have boxes and boxes of letters. I learned about resilience, humility, and friendships.
I graduated college with degree in Biology and moved to Las Vegas as the Regional Manager of a piano company. We sold high-end pianos. Our Las Vegas location was the largest dealer of Bosendorfer Pianos in the world. I traveled internationally; I had the opportunity to go to Shanghai and many other places around the world.
While working in the piano store, I opened a voice and piano studio. I did that for two years until I had my baby girl, which changed my world and me yet again. My husband and I got married when our daughter was 3, and then had our bouncing baby boy. As I was adjusting to life as a mom of two, I craved a new challenge for myself and spontaneously signed up for a marathon. So I started running - having never been a runner before. This past year I ran 4 half marathons and the one full 26.2 mile marathon in March. Running is a deeply personal gift to myself. I’ve always been a strong and disciplined person, but running gives me connection and an internal fortitude.
Over the years I’ve owned a medical distribution company and also sold real estate. After my son was born, I felt myself itching for a new business yet again and I felt open to the next challenge. I was really in a transitional time when I found out CREATE was for sale. On a whim, I emailed the owner and within a couple weeks, I owned it. My mom was an art teacher and while it’s a comfortable environment for me, it’s also a creative outlet for so many families in my community, mine included.
In the future, I would love to open another location on the other side of Las Vegas. I am so excited to be able to help support arts in the valley. We have such an amazing pool of talent in Las Vegas that allows us to offer a really wide range of classes. We have professionally trained art teachers who teach weekly art classes, sewing teachers, photographers, and various artists sharing their crafts. I am really excited to introduce our puppet class in December! Our young artists will have an opportunity to make a puppet and create a short film using it.
I want Create to give back, and while I know it’s already a space where our community thrives, there is more we can do. I have learned in my life that everything goes in cycles. There are times you have to hunker down and just take care of yourself and your family, and there are cycles in which you can open your whole heart and talents to the service and support of others. I am in a place in my life right now where I can put my energy into something that gives to, and is fed by, the community. I am grateful, and I like being here.
My life is still just beginning. I was always taught that you can do whatever you want as long as you are willing to work for it. I am always doing something and going somewhere. My husband shakes his head and laughs at every ‘brilliant’ idea I have, but is thankfully happy to build this journey and create these adventures with me. I am blessed to have his support and his humor. Things always find me. I believe that if I am open, there is always something new that’s going to come my way. Everything aligned with this space - I am so happy to be right here, and I’m ready to create."