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Sensi Magazine

Native Son

Dec 19, 2018 05:45PM ● By Debbie Hall
Radial Symmetry, a 16-by-16-foot metal sculpture of two Paiute baskets leaning on each other, welcomes people entering the Arts District and revitalized Main Street. The piece by artist and 30-year resident Luis Varela-Rico represents Vegas’ native culture in a contemporary setting as it stands at Garces Avenue where Main and Commerce streets intersect.

Long before millions of visitors descended on the Strip, the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe called Southern Nevada home. After the meadows were settled and became known as Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Paiute Colony was established north of downtown. The sovereign nation now owns and operates NuWu Cannabis Marketplace located on those tribal lands.

The exploration of the craft of the Southern Paiute basket weaving demonstrates the tribe’s artistic drive as embodied by today’s artisans. Since the Pauites were a nomad tribe, their intricately designed baskets celebrated the food and goods they lovingly transported throughout their journeys. The baskets were important to their survival but also a canvas to share their happiness.

The sculpture symbolizes the transformation and functionality of Arts District architecture, which integrates both art and beauty. As the baskets lean on each other, they send a message of community and support.