Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018 | 12:01 p.m.
Being curious about how things work led one Las Vegas artist to create pieces with mechanical-oriented design. One such piece is now available for everyone in Las Vegas to see.
One of Luis Varela-Rico’s largest sculptures, Radial Symmetry, was installed this week at the Arts District downtown at Main and Commerce streets. The $246,000 work is made of two large steel sculptures, which appear to be leaning against each other. Both basket-shaped pieces are 16-feet-by-16-feet, weighing 10 tons apiece.
For Varela-Rico, a 30-year Las Vegas resident, the piece represents hard work, but there’s another meaning behind the massive installation.Varela-Rico’s sculpture consists of an exploration of pre-Las Vegas history and art surrounding the craft of the Southern Paiute basket weaving.
“For generations, the nomadic tribes took great pride in developing intricate and beautiful ways to create and adorn their baskets,” Varela-Rico said in a statement. “I discovered that these baskets were mostly used for storing food, seeds and transporting of goods. I then wondered why these people would take such care to individualize and beautify an ordinary utilitarian object.”
He concluded that the art created a sense of identity and pride within a tribe, culture or area. Initially, Valera-Rico thought producing gigantic basket forms would be too simplistic. But using his welding expertise, he was able to design the piece in a way that visually satisfied him.
The piece is part of the Main Street improvement project, which wrapped up this month. The project converted Main Street into a one-way road from Las Vegas Boulevard to just before Garces Avenue.
Parking on both sides of the street, wider sidewalks and new bike lanes were part of the yearlong project. A public unveiling reception will be at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6.