Justin Favela and Ramiro Gomez come together for the first time in "Sorry for the Mess," an exhibition of new collaborative artwork about labor, childhood memories, and life in Las Vegas. Filling the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, this installation draws on key themes in the practices of both artists, merging a child’s imaginative experience with the adult realm of work and history.
The visual language of children’s television recurs throughout the show. Programs like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street helped many of us form ideas about the world when we were young, and the artists draw on that familiar framework to connect such disparate subjects as the dolphins living in aquariums on the desert-bound Strip and the skeleton of the prehistoric ichthyosaur that used to lie at the center of the museum floor. Playfully subverting our mental habit of blowing important objects up to huge proportions, Favela and Gomez create a giant landscape where the artifacts of “unseen” casino labor loom with the surreal monumentality of TV props.
The artists are familiar with the city — Favela as a native Las Vegan and Gomez as a Los Angeleno who often traveled here as a child to play in soccer tournaments. Taking its name from a temporary construction banner Gomez noticed at the Palms Casino Resort during the property’s recent renovation, "Sorry for the Mess" is rooted in on-site observation, local research, and conversations with workers and families.
“My mother has been a porter at the Palms since the casino opened in the ‘90s,” says Favela. “She is part of a very important workforce that maintains this city and their stories are never told.”
"The Barrick Museum of Art believes in the ability of artists to contribute to the identity of a community," says Alisha Kerlin, the museum's executive director. "Both artists think deeply about and are influenced by Las Vegas."
True to the humanistic ethos of both artists, construction of the installation focuses on handmade surfaces and widely-available materials such as cardboard and colored paper. Parts of the work will be built in a studio at the UNLV department of art as Favela and Gomez invite students to join them in their process.
"Sorry For the Mess" opens April 12 from 5 to 9 p.m. and is on view at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art from April 12 to Aug. 3. This exhibition is supported by the UNLV College of Fine Arts, the UNLV department of art, Latinos Who Lunch, The Art People Podcast, and Lindo Michoacan. Workshops and events associated with the show will be announced on the museum’s website and through our regular e-newsletter.
About Justin Favela
Known for large-scale installations and sculptures that manifest his interactions with American pop culture and the Latinx experience, Justin Favela has exhibited his work both internationally and across the United States. His installations have been commissioned by the Denver Art Museum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. His latest major project, Recuérdame, will be on view in New York City at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling until Sept. 8th. Favela hosts two culture-oriented podcasts, Latinos Who Lunch and The Art People Podcast. Justin Favela graduated from the UNLV with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2010.
About Ramiro Gomez
Ramiro Gomez uses the visibility of contemporary painting and sculpture to distinguish the workers whose everyday labor goes unrecognized by the society they serve. He focuses in particular on the lives of migrants in Los Angeles. Gomez’s work has been exhibited in institutions across the United States, among them the Smithsonian Portrait Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Denver Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. A participant in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, he featured in three exhibitions across the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, including LACMA’s important international group show, "Home — So Different, So Appealing."
About the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art
Located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art promotes a powerful awareness of the arts through programs of exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and community activities. Programming at the Barrick is driven by a commitment to diversity and inclusion.