Art

Murals in progress: Sush Machida brings his Japanese-inspired contemporary style to Child Haven

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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
Parts of a mural in progress by painter Sush Machida on the walls at Child Haven on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.  L.E. Baskow

Parts of a mural in progress by painter Sush Machida on the walls at Child Haven on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. L.E. Baskow

The clean lines, bright colors, pop sensibilities and harmonious compositions of artist Sush Machida are so inviting, soothing and energizing that it seems as if the artist has found a way to extract the brilliant lifeblood of nature itself.

Smart and accessible, Machida’s stylized works inspired by the Japanese Edo period have a kind of friendly, Zen-like allure that made the Las Vegas artist a perfect candidate for a public art project designed to uplift the human spirit at Child Haven, where 300 children a month are admitted for emergency protection and other issues.

Only four weeks into his multi-room murals, Machida has already transformed the “institutional beige” and drab green walls of Child Haven’s intake area.

Parts of a mural in progress by painter Sush Machida on the walls at Child Haven on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.  L.E. Baskow

Parts of a mural in progress by painter Sush Machida on the walls at Child Haven on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. L.E. Baskow

“This walk could be just really lonely and scary,” says Child Haven Director Jolie Courtney, standing in a hallway already marked with the floor-to-ceiling outline for Machida’s trees, giant goldfish, mountainous waves and pop-style animals.

“We see kids from ages 0 to 17 with a variety of family issues. When the county approached us we didn’t hesitate for a second.”

The $65,000 project, financed by the nearly 3-year-old Clark County Art Fund, is one of the fund’s first large endeavors. It includes the entrance lobby, a waiting room, play area and three intersecting hallways at the emergency shelter protecting abused, abandoned and neglected children. Machida may even extend the work onto the ceiling for an arboretum effect.

Machida, whose works often include clouds, Japanese-style waves, birds and hidden objects to be discovered over time, was one of 33 artists who applied for the project. Using colors and animals that are symbolic, his trademark style is evident even with the addition of child-friendly subjects and imagery—a carousel, unicorns and a camel near the drinking fountain, all of which supervisor Cindy Fischer says replace a “pretty sterile environment.”

“The first time I came through this place it was not happy,” Machida says. “I feel more responsibility because kids come through here. These kids, they need to have something happen here rather than a plain wall. Murals in this kind of place are more about experience than appreciation of art.”

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