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Still-life-s showcases artists with Las Vegas connections from watercolors to tattoos to photography

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Posted at 8:38 PM, Dec 11, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Last summer Lisa Rock left her house as seldom as she could. She says it's because of what was happening right outside her door.

"There's a lot of fires here and the smoke was kind of unbearable," she explained. Rock lives in Oakland, California.

"Being stuck inside, I was making little still lifes," she said. "As I was painting, the light was shifting in my house, like, to this intense orange, and you can kind of see that orange light showing up in the painting.”

Wildfires Smoky Skies
Looking down Lombard Street, Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill at right and the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, are darkened by wildfire smoke Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in San Francisco. People from San Francisco to Seattle woke Wednesday to hazy clouds of smoke lingering in the air, darkening the sky to an eerie orange glow that kept street lights illuminated into midday, all thanks to dozens of wildfires throughout the West. The picture was taken in the middle of the day at 12:18 p.m. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Her watercolor titled "Recipe Box" is one of several featured right now at Available Space Art Projects (A S A P) as part of the December show called "Still-life-s" curated by UNLV professor Pasha Rafat. "With the subject matter of still life or still lifes,” said Rafat.

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The exhibition features work from 10 national and international, artists all of who have a connection to Las Vegas. Rock, for example, has a Master of Fine Arts from UNLV.

"She’s a very interesting artist," said Rafat. "I mean if you look at those colors, really amazing.”

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"Recipe Box" is on display right now at A S A P in Las Vegas. It was created by Oakland artist Lisa Rock. (Photo courtesy: Lisa Rock)

Aaron Sheppard is also a former MFA from UNLV. "He's a performance artist, a painter, collagist, sculptor and mixed media,” said Rafat. He's also a tattoo artist.

During a reception on Dec. 18 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sheppard will be doing tattoos on location at A S A P from his certified mobile tattoo facility. Rafat says the tattoos stay with the still-life theme.

They cost $50 and are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Sheppard will freehand the tattoos and A S A P says all proceeds go towards the gallery.

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A painting by Aaron Shepherd hanging at Still-life-s at A S A P in Las Vegas.

Other featured artists include Ginger Bruner, Ash Ferlito, Maureen Halligan, Afsaneh Javanmard, Dylan Jones, Fay Ku, Yuino Nakabayashi and Kathleen Nathan.

“Kathleen [Nathan] is our [UNLV] first MFA graduate student in photography," said Rafat.

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Photographs by Kathleen Nathan at Still-life-s at A S A P.

The artists' work on display spans across mediums, decades and styles, but it's all connected through still life — a genre with a history that goes back centuries. Still life paintings have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.

"In the 20th century, the key figure I think is the Giorgio Morandi,” said Rafat, who points to Morandi as the inspiration for Still-life-s. "His work is basically the premise behind this show.”

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Several pieces on view were commissioned by Rafat with that in mind. When you first walk into A S A P, you'll see ceramic vases based on paintings from the Italian artist, and on the wall behind that is a commissioned painting of the ceramics in the entry.

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Ceramic vases commissioned by Rafat based on paintings from Italian artist Giorgio Morandi (left) and on the wall behind them is a painting also commissioned by Rafat of the ceramics (right).

And that's not all.

“So this is a gouache of a photograph from the book, which is already a photograph from the image," said Rafat of a gouache, similar to a watercolor, hanging on the wall. "Convoluted, I know," he laughed.

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A painting commissioned by Rafat for Still-life-s of a photograph of a painting from a book of Morandi's art.

He commissioned that piece from Nakabayashi, a Japanese artist with other original work in the show. She lives in Tokyo now and was one of Rafat's students at UNLV.

Learn more about Still-life-s and about A S A P at availablespaceartprojects.com.

This story is from our "Las Vegas Art Scene" segment in our dedicated digital show "How to Vegas." Watch "How to Vegas" at 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and throughout the weekend using the KTNV app on your favorite streaming device.

Do you know an artist or art experience that should be featured? Email amy.abdelsayed@ktnv.com.