Popular Las Vegas artist opens store in Arts District

The brands in question are immediately recognizable: Land O’ Lakes, Crayola, Chiquita Banana. But here, painted and pasted on reclaimed wood and stop signs, the iconic logos are altered. The Sun-Maid raisin girl carries a tray of test tubes. Two fingers pinch a dime bag containing the Instagram icon. A Band-Aid box is branded as “Empathy” and promises to “heal the world.”

Recycled Propaganda’s thought-provoking works of art adorn the interiors of Las Vegas restaurants, walls on Main Street and vendor tents at local art festivals. For the first time, Recycled Propaganda has a brick-and-mortar space in the Las Vegas Arts District.

Izaac Zevalking moved from England to Las Vegas in 2012 and began creating under the Recycled Propaganda moniker in 2013.

“A lot of people say you need to ease into Las Vegas,” Zevalking says. “But I liked it right away. I grew up in a little village and there wasn’t a lot to do. Here, everything is at your fingertips.”

Zevalking quickly embedded himself in Las Vegas’ art scene. He’s participated in every First Friday since March 2013 and sells reproductions at the Summerlin Arts Festival. His originals, identifiable by the “Recycled Propaganda” logo on the bottom right, hang on the walls of Madhouse Coffee and VegeNation.

At 2018’s Summerlin Arts Festival, David Van Zanten approached him about moving into one of his buildings in the Arts District.

“I’m not an arts person,” Van Zanten says. “I just happened to be in the area and his art appealed to me. I bought something from him — that’s big for me.”

The two agreed to take on what they describe as an experiment: to see if Main Street could sustain a dedicated art gallery.

The Recycled Propaganda gallery and store features what Zevalking describes as sociocultural and sociopolitical art. His paintings and mixed-media pieces often reference consumerism, technology and the necessity of free thought.

The pseudonym is a tool.

“I can brand my work in a way that’s detached from myself, which makes it easier to take criticism and sell it in a way,” he says. “I just do the work and it’s its own body of work.”

The Main Street gallery and store displays originals and reproductions, primarily featuring familiar companies.

“The show is called ‘Brandwashed,’” Zevalking explains. “We’ve been brainwashed by these companies for decades and don’t even realize it. The idea of critiquing the industry by playing with the imagery and feeding it back to you appeals to me. If you can recognize it once I’ve messed it up, that’s a real deep level of recognition that is in you.”

The art isn’t intended to attack specific brands, but rather critique the branding industry as a whole. He poses the question: Do these companies’ practices align with the image they strive to present?

“The branding and advertising are so good,” Zevalking explains, “that it sort of supersedes the morality of those companies.”

Zevalking says he’s never had trademark issues. “It’s satire, and critiquing the brand itself is protected under copyright law.”

Other pieces in the collection include a carton of cigarettes, “Lobbying” replacing the word “Marlboro.”

A Land O’ Lakes Butter label shows the Native American woman in distress, the words replaced with “Land O Rape Culture.”

“To me, it’s representing the imagery and white-washing of Native American culture,” Zevalking says about the piece. “But you could interpret it in myriad ways. The important thing is you interpret it.”

The front of the space will feature his images available as prints, stickers and apparel. The back room will house large-scale installations that can be interacted with, touched and listened to.

“This will be a test of how successful it is. So if I’m not here in a year,” Zevalking trails off with a laugh, “I’ll do what I want to do. And if people feed off it, that’s great.”

Zevalking hopes that the storefront means his work might reach more people. He and Van Zanten both foresee their stretch of the Arts District picking up now that Main Street’s renovations have wrapped.

“When I first moved here, the epicenter was the Arts Factory, and that system felt unstable,” Zevalking recalls. “Now the Arts District is spread over an entire region and I see a continuation of the Strip, from Fremont to Main Street. It’s all very exciting.”

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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