Preview / Artists Reception
Thursday July 31
6 to 8 p.m.
Through August 29
107 E. Charleston Blvd.
Critters floating among portraits of the female gaze must have a story behind it, but this artist Su Limbert wants the viewer to author what those dreams may be. With feminine moxy she throws out this question: “Is it ecstasy or are they dying?” It’s a fun dare for those who will see her new solo show, “Forevermore,” at Trifecta Gallery. “It’s all interconnected, opened ended, and ambiguous, intentionally,” Limbert says. “To articulate it could destroy it.”
It opens July 31, but ideas started the day after Trifecta Gallery owner Marty Walsh confirmed she was set for August. “I had a picture in my head,” Limbert recalls. “That was a year ago when I saw the space.”
Beside wood creatures on the wall, the show features portraits of women with don’t-come-hither poses. “I always use animals and people to communicate what is cyclical in life,” she said.
After months of assembling, sanding, and painting the individual pieces connected together in the space working as a site-specific installation. Limbert dropped off the new works with friendly darkness a week ago and Walsh was delighted to see she went beyond what was expected. “Bad dreams in Candy Land,” said Walsh.
In all her work, there is folk art informality that comes from visual references Limbert saw while traveling through Mississippi during her childhood. She recalls seeing the yard art, hand painted signs with genuine messages, all seemingly connected by overgrown moss or kudzu, and some have religious driven reverence. “Art with divine light talking through them,” she said. “I’m driven, but it’s not God speaking through my art…that I know of.”
Those rural forms of public art are also desert highway staple, since arriving to Las Vegas means spending time on open roads. “My references to public art isn’t Alexander Calder or anything like that,” she said. “It’s the kitschy things that are landmarks in rural towns that people relate to. There’s a sentiment in those markers of place.”
Art in view of the public is part of Limbert’s regional portfolio. In 2012, she installed the East Side Project window for the Las Vegas Contemporary Art Center (CAC). “Public art should do all that art can do, not just one thing. It should be accessible. That’s what I liked about the CAC window.”
Public access to art has the artist not always use a direct narrative, or a message, “but to create an experience,” she said. “Just exposing people who don’t go into galleries to other ways of being and thinking.”
The window installation at CAC window helped her work get attention. Her first solo shows were held at BlackBird Studios, then in 2012 Limbert was named one of the next 10 emerging artists by Las Vegas City Life. In 2013, she and Sierra Slentz were artists-in-residency for Cosmopolitan's P3 studios that featured a hand carved 5-foot bear covered in hand-made ceramic objects, giving the sculpture an aesthetic coat of found objects (The bear is now part of the permanent collection). And there is a ceramic mural for Winchester Culture Center, being in a number of groups shows including “Next Exit: Route 66 at Springs Preserve, plus teaching art for 12 years.
While doing final prep work on Sunday, Limbert was sharing stories about her grandparents while shaking a canister of pink paint. Each time she revealed something, her hand shaking up the paint would stop in mid-air to emphasize a point, but then she moved on before revealing any mystery to herself.
Her art is like that. There’s just enough to prompt a story, which is something else that draws from those childhood road trips. When you drive by roadside folk public art and you are not at the wheel, you don’t get to choose to make a stop to ask about something you see. You make up your own story. Besides, if do ask a roadside artist what the message was, there’s an obligation to accept their meaning.
If you need a prompt, just refer to Limbert saying “Forevermore” is about: “Nature and man, as generic as that is, finding a retreat.” Know there’s more adventure in writing your own tale.
Justin Favela "Lowrider Piñata" at "Next Exit: Route 66" Photo by Steve Marcus via Justin Favela.com
A low-rider from Las Vegas will be taking a little trip, taking a little trip, to the South.
Justin Favela’s "Lowrider Piñata" will travel to Arkansas for “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now” at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. Their fall exhibition brings together 21st century contemporary art from around the U.S.
Crystal Bridges Museum assistant curator Chad Alligood traveled nationwide with museum president Don Bacigalupi to meet with over 1,000 unknown artists. Over the course of a year they went to places off the traditional map to explore contemporary art communities, making studio visits to uncover interesting works or works in progress, and finally selecting 102 artists.
As they traveled west they found surprises exceeding their expectations, Alligood said. “So by the time we arrived to Favela’s home in a western Las Vegas suburb I was ready to see great things.” When the garage door was raised on that February day and Alligood saw a large papier-mâché bird, he slipped on his curator cap and said: “Let’s address the giant turkey.” It wasn’t a disappointment at all.
The fowl on the ground was indeed a large turkey, a touch of absurdity coming out from the suburbs of a town that goes over the top, part of a larger body of work that has Latino/Chicano art subtext. The frame was repurposed as “Big Bird,” Favela’s entry in the Comedians and Magicians exhibit at Trifecta Gallery.
It’s Favela’s playfulness and piñatas that placed him on the shortlist. This was seen in his previous works at Contemporary Arts Center, as well as the satirical response to CityCenter’s art collection at the Clark County Government Center Rotunda, and the life-size 1964 Chevy Impala that was the centerpiece for “Next Exit: Route 66” at the Springs Preserve.
“It’s smart, incisive commentary on content and how it’s consumed, and it’s not complicated, and very candid, and very open to the viewer,” said Alligood. “He thinks about how his identity is construed through his own mediated culture.”
By using materials with recollection of surface texture, such as a piñata, adds a vital conceptual connection to identity, adds Alligood. “It’s a bed rock of Latino culture.”
“Lowrider Piñata” first comes from being an embedded observer of Chicano and Las Vegas symbolism. Favela contemplated what Latino iconography would make an interesting sculpture. “What can I make that my uncle would think is cool?” Asked the artist to himself.
Noting the veneer of mischievous satire has deeper context, Alligood asked Favela if there was a direct reference to the Liberace Museum, where he worked at during the building of "Lowrider Piñata." “At first, I didn’t think so,” said Favela. Then he thought, “Oh, yeah, I see it.”
When Favela got the news he was selected, then asked which piece he wanted to send, the low rider, was picked because it was “built to represent Route 66, “ said Favela. “It fits me, Las Vegas, and the American theme.”
But it’s the context of piñata that had the work make the cut because, with resonance, it too talks of the larger cultures within Las Vegas, said Alligood. “The fulfilled promise, not yet fulfilled. The materials promise candy; that candy is not fulfilling, and you want more. Those are interesting connections to (Las Vegas) visual culture and Justin is turning that on its head.”
“In the last 100 years, once you get past pop art, post-modernism as a term completely fails,” he adds, which could be the power of “State of the Art” showing how works from artists like Favela say regional contemporary art is coming out from tight and embedded art communities, as Alligood found in Las Vegas. “It’s coming from a place that’s local, locality as a place of positivity that supports inspirations.”
Favela support comes directly from friends helping him assemble a new low-rider in a studio, working to have it ready by Monday when it will be picked up to make a cross country trip. This experience has him ready to spend more time on works that are from his growing spirited play off images that define regional contemporary art from Las Vegas. “And,” adds Favela, “I can keep being myself.’
“State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now” opens at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., on Sept. 13.
The City of Las Vegas gathering names of qualified Southern Nevada based artists for a site-specific public art project at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, says a 18b Las Vegas Arts District post. “The selected artist will work within a $30,000 budget to create a ceramic artwork for the building’s façade. A pre-proposal conference to answer questions will be held at City Hall at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 31, in the city’s Purchasing and Contracts Conference room on the Third Floor. City Hall is located at 495 S. Main St. The deadline for submissions is 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 21.” 18b.
City of Las Vegas (BID NUMBER: ROSQ-140212-CW-0-2014/CW )
"I used to believe that art could exist for art’s sake. But after many discussions with a friend who believed that art needed to be concept based in order to relevant to our society, I began to question my voice and the relevancy of my own artistic practice." Linda Alterwitz at Arts Las Vegas.
Trifecta Gallery will host a “casual and important conversation” with photographer Linda Alterwitz Thursday, July 24, at 6 p.m.
Trifecta I Facebook
Previously: Seeing Through One's Self
Photo: Paint This Desert
Chuckle if you want, the "World's Tallest Thermometer" has a fan base. It was re-lit last week and went to grab some photos. LaRae Harguess, daughter of Therometer creator, Willis Herron, was there, which led to a nice little story at KCET. In part I wrote:
"The 134-foot heat gauge began to be neglected and grew a reputation of giving the wrong temperature, or not give one at all. The lights went out when the last owner wasn't able to afford it. But people were still taking photos next to the tower, said Harguess, as her mother saw one day when visiting the tower. "Mom was devastated how terrible it looked. One day she walked up to people taking photos and said 'I promise you if we ever get it back, it will go back on.'"