Art

Mexico: Perceptions, memories and dreams in artist’s Piñata utopia

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Justin Favela’s Piñatatopia at P3 Studios inside of the Cosmopolitan Hotel running until October 5, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

If you notice a piñata Windex bottle and giant lime wedge hanging before a Mexican landscape at Cosmo’s P3Studio, but wonder where the sombrero and Americanized Mexican tacos are, don’t worry. They’re coming.

Using the collective memory and imaginations of visitors, artist Justin Favela is creating a dioramic Mexico out of piñatas based entirely on other people’s perception of the country—a process that almost begs for stereotypes, innocent and not.

Piñatatopia by Justin Favela

On the walls are visitor sketches that map out the beginnings of a cross-cultural wonderland as if told through cultural folklore and grocery store marketing of Mexico—tacos, sombreros, Coronas, Day of the Dead skulls, margarita paraphernalia and Tapatío. While guests occasionally land on the same imagery, mostly they choose to mix it up, Favela says. One visitor from Mexico drew a bucket of cement with a piece of rebar in it, a common stand-in for traffic cones in her neighborhood (which Favela has already made into a piñata). Another drew a Mayan temple.

As with nearly everything Favela creates, the interactive installation titled Piñatatopia is a humorous take on pop culture, art history, cultural commentary and his own heritage, wrapped in a social study of sorts that welcomes everyone to play along. In this case, you have a Las Vegas artist of Mexican and Guatemalan heritage interpreting—through piñatas—your drawn interpretations of his family’s homeland.

Included in the exhibit area is a large-scale piñata version of Jose Maria Velasco’s “The Valley of Mexico,” a European-inspired Romantic landscape rendered in tissue paper, pixilated and covering P3’s entire back wall. Like Piñatatopia, it’s a work based on a real thing, passed through many cultural influences and still evolving.

Piñatatopia Through October 5; Wednesday-Sunday, 6-11 p.m. Cosmopolitan’s P3Studio, 702-698-7000. Closing reception October 2, 6-8 p.m.

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