Selena pizzas and mini Impalas: Justin Favela reassembles his art in ‘Chop Shop’

Justin Favela’s ‘Chop Shop’ on June 27, 2015.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

When your 1964 Kelly green lowrider Impala has been sliced into thirds and shipped back to Vegas after much ballyhoo in a museum exhibit several states away, there’s not much more to do with it except dismantle and reassemble—an amenable situation when the life-size ride consists of shredded paper, foam and glue.

Justin Favela's 'Chop Shop' on June 27, 2015.

This is what artist Justin Favela was planning last year at Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, where his piñata-inspired Impala was featured in a national exhibit. Not only would the car be recycled, but a collaborative exhibit with artist Sean Slattery (exploring celebrity tragedy via cars) would yield even more auto parts.

So when Todd VonBastiaans and Bryan McCarthy invited Favela to their Main Street space Alios for a themed residency of sorts, the cars came in, the wheels came off and the open studio/ interactive installation Chop Shop was opened to the public. Neighbors, artists and Favela’s friends and family stopped in to see the process. In many cases, they would assist. “We loved that we walked in one night and eight different artists were working on the same piece,” VonBastiaans says.

Justin Favela's 'Chop Shop' on June 27, 2015.

The daily grind continued for weeks. Nothing is wasted when it comes to Favela’s work, particularly the humor and cultural insight. The Impala became seven mini Impalas, along with “paintings” made from wall mounting the car’s side and top. The red GMC piñata-inspired truck from Car Show, which represented the standoff between police and Tejano singer Selena’s killer, was used to create small works featuring the star’s signature—thoroughly dipped in glitter—from the MAC cosmetics campaign. The signatures were mounted on paper pizzas, inspired by a line in the Selena biopic: “I can eat a whole medium pizza all by myself.”

Not everything in the show had a direct Chicano connection, but it did have some sort of cultural weave. Portraits of Marge, Bart and Homer Simpson were made from the sculpted highway accommodating O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco in Car Show. Chicken McNuggets were made from the car in which Tupac Shakur was shot, tying together the shooting site and a Chicken McNugget billboard, both of which the artist passes on his way to work. The residency has been extended for First Friday. Can’t find Alios? Look for the yellow garage-door-size Chop Shop sign.

Chop Shop July 3 (First Friday), 6-9 p.m., Alios, 1217 S. Main Street.

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Kristen Peterson

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