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Sorry for the mess

Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
April 12, 2019 – August 3, 2019

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 East and West Galleries of 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.”

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.

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 in Colorado 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 September 8th, 2019. Favela hosts two culture-oriented podcasts, Latinos Who Lunch and The Art People Podcast.

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.


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