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Shepard Fairey and a Group of Street Artists Transform Downtown Las Vegas

For the fourth year, artists have descended on Las Vegas for the Life is Beautiful Festival under the guidance of JUSTKIDS curator Charlotte Dutoit. Fresh off success in Arkansas at the Unexpected, JUSTKIDS culled a lineup of heavy hitters worthy of past lineups, which have included the likes of Roa, Vhils, D*Face, and Kiki Smith. This year, legendary artist Shepard Fairey joined the fold to paint a large mural at one of the busiest intersections in Las Vegas. Titled Corporate Welfare, JUSTKIDS shares that through the work he “hopes to inspire us to take a closer look on the intrinsic connection between faceless corporations and a nontransparent government in a questionable democracy.”

Life is Beautiful encompasses music, cuisine, comedy, and more, with a full roster of concerts and lectures, but it’s the art that remains year-round. More than 40 pieces dot the urban landscape, with Dutoit selecting an eclectic roster of artists who move from figurative painting to industrial installations in order to bring contemporary art to the streets of Las Vegas. We’ve selected highlights of the 2016 lineup, which included 14 artists from Europe, South America, Australia, and the United States.

Above image: Shepard Fairey, Corporate Welfare

Shepard Fairey at work

Mike Ross, Big Rig Jig. Created in 2007 Ross’s installation was included in Banksy’s Dismaland, but has found a permanent home in the courtyard of the Ferguson Motel. The piece is constructed from two discarded tanker trucks. According to Ross’s website, visitors may enter the lower truck, climb through the tankers, and emerge to a viewing platform between the rear axles, forty-two feet in the air.

Dulk. The Spanish artist has created a fantastical world inspired by the state of Nevada. In keeping with his style, the piece continues to unfold small details the more time the viewer spends observing this Surrealist vision of the desert.

Justin Favela. In less than a week local artist Favela transformed this building into a shocking pink piñata. Favela’s work is innovative while at the same time paying homage to his heritage (his father is Mexican and his mother Guatemalan).

Justin Favela

Fafi. Legendary French artist Fafi’s work incorporates her iconic Fafinette character. One of three female artists in this year’s lineup, her take-charge figures in brilliant colors blend in perfectly with the bold spirit of Las Vegas.

Fafi and Shepard Fairey in progress. Fafi and Shepard Fairey’s works can be found on one of the busiest intersections in Las Vegas on the Emergency Arts Center.

Pantone. Ripped straight from a 1980s computer fantasy, the Argentinian artist worked to give the building a 3D effect through trompe-l’oeil and an architectonic lighting spectrum.

Betz. The Polish artist, one half of the popular Etam Cru, has added a twist to the traditionally large single figures found in his work. The background, painted to give the illusion of stained glass, contains the allegory of St. George and the Dragon. The young boy dreams of this iconically heroic tale, which has been painted throughout art history, from Medieval to modern times.

Crystal Wagner, work in progress. Photo by Krystal Ramirez. Working outdoors for the first time, the contemporary artist completed a 120-foot long installation constructed from her signature media of paper and fabric.

Martin Whatson. Whimsical in his work, the Norwegian artist continually uses illusion to transform the architectural structures he works on. Juxtaposing colorful, old-school graffiti with neutral, gray walls, the artist provokes us to think about which type of environment we want to inhabit.

Tristan Eaton, Fear No Fate. Photo by Krystal Ramirez. Eaton is known for his classic female figures, which contain a hint of old-world glamour. Here he’s fully embraced all things Las Vegas, from poker chips to the almighty dice that determine our fate on the tables. In fact, “No Risk, No Reward,” is the name of the game for adventurous gamblers or Eaton’s heroine, who could be a Vegas showgirl.

Tristan Eaton. Photo by Krystal Ramirez.

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My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by JUSTKIDS.

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