I came across this beautiful article about local artist, Alex Huerta, and I am truly honored to be able to share it on this blog. Written by another local artist, Heather Richelieu, it conveys the spirit of collaboration and inspiration that is flowing freely in the Arts District these days. The image is by another brilliant artist, Anna Olga Aristova, whose work is a source of infatuation for me. As you read Alex’s story of how he became an artist, it is hard not to reflect on your own truths, and whether they are being fully expressed. Let this story be an inspiration to you, and at the very least let it help you find your way down to the Arts Factory. Wander around, and eventually you will stumble in to the PeaceNArt Studio, and have the privilege of meeting the mayor of the Arts Factory, Alex Huerta, in the flesh.
Top image by Anna Olga Aristova of Couture Visuals
When you think of Vegas, you think Sin City, consisting of gambling, drinking & endless amounts of entertainment. I would like to share with you another side of Vegas that has recently been the talk of the town, 18B Arts District. Vegas is swarming with artistic talent that spreads throughout the Valley. Most of you are familiar with the Arts District because of the monthly event, First Friday. It’s a magical night of events, which includes hundreds of artists displaying their artwork in booths on the streets. There’s also over a dozen local food vendors and local musicians playing on stages placed throughout this wonderful event. What many people don’t realize is that the Arts District is very much alive everyday of the week. Many artists have their own studios where they’re creating on a daily basis.
One artist in particular, is a huge inspiration to me: Alexander Huerta, of Peace & Art Studio. He is an amazing artist who is down to earth and genuine. His story has touched my heart and inspired me to keep following my dreams as an artist, no matter what.
Alex moved to Vegas at the age of 16 with his mother from the San Francisco Bay area. He was born with only 20% of one kidney and always knew he would have struggles to overcome. In 1996 at the age of 30, he had a kidney transplant. After his transplant, he felt invincible. He became a little reckless and started drinking heavily. He fell into the lifestyle the night life of Vegas is well known for, which is party all night, sleep all day. This path he followed unfortunately led him to losing jobs and eventually ending up with a DUI. In 1998 he spent 30 days in jail, and fortunately this was all it took for him to realize his life needed to take a turn. For his 30- day stay, Alex was allowed paper and five colored pencils. He used this time and the few tools he was given to start creating pointillism drawings. This hobby kept him out of trouble, but most importantly it awakened the voice from within him telling him everyday, “Alex you are an artist”. He started to question, “where do artists go to showcase their work?” When he returned to the outside world he stumbled upon the CAC: The Contemporary Arts Center of Las Vegas. He began to gallery sit for four hours a day once a week. He knew he had to continue surrounding himself with art and other artists like himself.
In 2002, First Friday was born in the Arts District, and from 2002-2008 Alex showcased his pointillism drawings. In 2008 he came into some money and knew that he needed to spend it on his own studio, otherwise he would waste it on something else. So that’s what he did, and this is when Peace & Art Studio came into fruition. Alex views this point in his life as when he took the pencil out of the Universe’s hands and started writing his own story. One of his quotes I love is, “Survive your childhood, and the rest of your life is your own!”. Brilliant and so very true!
In 2009, Alex discovered mixed media and was elated when he realized he could mix oil with acrylic. He began experimenting with mixed media and adding elements to his art that would be considered unconventional. In 2010 Alex and two of his friends, Eddie “Cicifu” Canumay & Alexander “Sky” Carranza formed 3 Baaad Sheep. This incredibly talented trio realized they could create mind stretching provocative art when they put their minds together. Shortly after this trio formed they were awarded “Best in Show” at an Art-Rageous juried show held at the Cosmopolitan. Since then, they have a huge list of accomplishments under their belt. After only 3 short years they now have collectors spanning the US and Canada. They are involved with many charities here in town and contribute not only their time but also their artwork.
In 2011 Alex took a step back to make a personal assessment of the Arts District, and what he had seen over the last seven years in his community. He explained to me his vision, with a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye, he said, “One day, I want to look out over the patio at the Bar and Bistro and see a sea of painters with their easels. This sea extends across the street into the parking lot. They are all painting with vibrant colors & the traffic going by slows down to look. Eventually people will stop.” This vision inspired him to create Painters on the Patio which is held on Saturdays at the Bar & Bistro. Anyone is welcome to come hang out and paint. This event has grown over the past 2 years and has showcased many local artists, musicians and poets. It’s a very inviting atmosphere and I suggest anyone looking to get into the local art scene to come down and be a part of this incredible event. I asked Alex what he thought of the new project to reshape the Arts District, and he said, “I respect people that back up their words with actions and that’s exactly what these men are doing.”
Alex has recently teamed up with HELP of Southern NV and will begin teaching art to the youth two Saturdays a month. His message to other artists out there is “Be your own hero, and never compromise your integrity as an artist, just do what you love.” You can find Alex at his studio everyday of the week.
Top image by Anna Olga Aristova of Couture Visuals
See collaboration between PeaceNArt and FashionFeedLV Here