Sush Machida on fish, air fresheners and his mural with Tim Bavington

Artist Sush Machida poses by a mural he is creating with fellow artist Tim Bavington on the side of the Emergency Arts building at Fremont and Sixth streets in downtown Las Vegas Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014.
Photo: Steve Marcus

A 100-foot-long mural by Las Vegas-based artists Sush Machida and Tim Bavington is popping off the side of Emergency Arts at Sixth and Fremont streets. It boasts 30-foot goldfish, slot themes and inspiration from British musician Paul Weller’s 1997 song “Science.”

Created in conjunction with the Life Is Beautiful Festival, it connects Machida’s colorful Pop- and nature-inspired paintings with Bavington’s intense, music-inspired rhythmic works, in which the artist corresponds colors with musical tones. The collaborative painting fills the space occupied last year by Ukrainian artist Interesni Kazki’s mural, which was controversially covered in November for not having a more positive vibe. We spoke with Machida about the new mural and repeating symbols in his work.

Fish: “I paint a lot of fish. I’ve been painting fish since I was 6 years old. In first grade on summer vacation I made a fish with a Coca-Cola bottle, a combination of Pop art and traditional art. Since then, I found out I really like the repetition of scales, the shape, and the smooth movement of the fish in the water. I chose goldfish this time—because goldfish grow bigger in a bigger tank—as some sort of message that we have to swim in bigger lakes; we have to dream bigger, think bigger.”

Symbolism (air fresheners and Chanel bottles): “I’m kind of sarcastic. Fish stink. I always have some sort of hidden meaning in it. It’s not random.”

Color: “In Japan, older art and even contemporary art is very black and white. They don’t have clear skies. It’s really dark. People tend to make things black and white. In California, there is moisture in the sky and soft light and the color is pastel. In Vegas everything here is so dry and contrasting. Nature makes me choose the color. Nature is more powerful than our decisions.”

Clouds with dots: “I kind of want to make it float in the sky.”

Working with Bavington: “We’ve known each other and have been friends for 15 years, but we never thought about it. But then we designed together, and it worked out really well.”

Street versus fine art: “Street artists are now in galleries. They invade art scenes, galleries and museums. And now we’re invading the street. It’s like a battle of street artists and artists, but in a good way—like a breakdancing battle.”

On a building: “Everybody who drives by or walks by can see it. It’s not in a gallery or museum. Art doesn’t choose anybody. It’s for everybody.”

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