A show by Shawna Wangseng (b. in Montana, Master of Fine Arts in Kansas) and Isaac Sandoval (b. in New Mexico, graduated in New Mexico Highlands University and Master of Fine Arts in Kansas)
An interview by Christian Mayeur at World Treasures Traveler’s cafe, Las Vegas, Dec. 28, 2017
Christian Mayeur: What are your sources of inspiration?
Shawna: “I take inspiration from my surroundings, from the environment I’m living in, the everyday, seemingly monotony, I really work with juxtapositions about ordinary and totally different stories. Inspiration comes also along the way the composition is arranged.”
Isaac: “I’m also influenced by my surroundings, and in addition by ZEN Buddhism, meditation, experiencing kind of hatred, opening my experience.”
CM: What kind of music do you like?
Shawna: “Hip hop, indie… older staff”
Isaac: “A wide range, I love Os Mutantes, Portuguese psychedelic music, rap, gangster rap music, but sometimes mellow. I love also this French David Bowie cover
CM: To be an artist, what does it mean?
Shawna: “Introducing aesthetics to everything I do in my life. My home environment, menus for the restaurant, a way of living. Art influences everything! Living creatively, using creativity to solve everyday problems, that’s the way to be an artist”
Isaac: “Create your own environment, create your word and create experiences for others. The big one is just working, being in the studio. The making of it is the big one. To be in there, to do…”
CM: You entitled the show: Southwest Psychedelia. Why?
Isaac: “Some sort of Southwestern weird experience, it could be a vision of a cowboy who ate psychedelic mushrooms. For sure, it’s different from the Old West cliches”.
Reflecting another way of living here. Las Vegas New Mexico is a funky place, we are a product of this”.
Shawna: “Everything is freezed from End of 19th century until 1984. A sort of abandoned and left alone place. Las Vegas is some kind of limbo stage, from another time, and at the same time very lively, with a university, with some revival these 2 or 3 last years.”
CM: Isaac, you are interested by the figure of Ouroboros. What does it mean for you?
Isaac: “It means the again and again cycle, always the same, the eternal return, some rebirth. But my interpretation of the mythic figure of Ouroboros is quite funky. I made it as a donkey who is kissing its own ass – a fun experience, it‘s a joke. The myth is made more relaxed, so that people get engaged in it. It’s funny.”
CM: And dogs and goats, why?
Isaac: “Animals are inspired by Mexican folk art aesthetic, but I decided to make it weirder and more contemporary. My dream is to make a whole farm. I want to give people something to connect with.”
CM: Shawna, tell us about CAR TOWN
Shawna: “I was thinking about the romanticized time of early 70’s. A hay day, a huge part of my dad’s generation. There is a big emphasis on lifestyle of this time, you find many tracks of this in Las Vegas. People are connected to automobiles. People reuse and reuse and reuse. The piece reflects this sort of culture. I moved from painting to fabric because it is the material I can work around with my small daughter.”
Isaac: “She made double sided paintings with dresses.”
Shawna: “It’s a traditional style in a weird way – It’s definitely not what I’m interested to make realistic paintings.”
Isaac: “We work with wood, metal, we love to keep on handling with the new challenges. Every day, the question is: What problems will we solve? I’ve got all this stuff, what can I make from it? There’s always a potential for new avenues.”
CM: Why is art important in Las Vegas?
Isaac: “Art is important, based on practices very approachable for people. We wanted to have an art experience for people that didn’t scare them. A lot of people don’t know how to deal with contemporary art. They think: What am I supposed to feel, to do? People don’t have to feel outsiders.”
At the Skillet*, people make selfies near the works in the restaurant – they feel part of it, they feel connected. It’s art in action, art in a public space and we love it! People don’t know how to react to all the chaos, the stimulus in there. They say: “The Skillet, this is where art is”.
CM: What does it mean to both of you to make a show at Mayeur Projects?
Shawna: “It’s very exciting to have this experience of a solo show in our home town. Mayeur Projects is quite a different venue. It’s exciting for us as artists to be more artists, not only the people who make tacos.”
Isaac: “It’s gonna warm up. We had to simplify. That was a new feeling. We have a lot of pieces. For a solo show in your gallery, we wanted to have a concise voice. When you’re ask to make a solo show in relation with an entire space, you have to put it up. Your voice can change mid-sentence. That’s what happened, and that’s exciting!”
*arty restaurant founded, designed and run by Shawna and Isaac