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Artist takes viewers ‘Window Shopping’

Only a few days remain to catch “Window Shopping,” an exhibit of paintings by Lolita Develay at the Winchester Cultural Center, 3150 S. McLeod Drive.

The show, set to close Friday, features oils and watercolors depicting luxurious retail interiors filled with metallic mannequins.

“She was told by someone once that she wasn’t an artist, she was a technician,” Clark County cultural specialist Patrick Gaffey said of Develay. “But that’s just wrong. She’s very much an artist, but she’s also a technician of the highest order.”

Develay came to Las Vegas from the Los Angeles area. She began this series of paintings in 2010 when she was taking an advanced painting class at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She continued the series on her own after she graduated.

“I submitted the proposal for the show thinking I wouldn’t need to finish them until 2012,” she said. “It turned out that they wanted them for an August show, so I finished the last of them just a few weeks before the show.”

The inspiration came to her while visiting the shops inside CityCenter. She had recently returned to photography and went there thinking it would be similar to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif. Instead of the bustling crowds and traffic, she found the Las Vegas shops quiet and much less populated.

“It made a real social statement to me about wealth and social disparity,” Develay said. “I tried to put that into my work.”

For Develay, the mannequins are full of symbolic importance.

“For me, the mannequins took on superhuman qualities,” she said, “qualities that we aspire to and admire, maybe not every single individual, but we as a culture. It’s where our values lie, because that’s where we spend our money.”

Develay sees the mannequins as an ideal manifestation of human identity, an identity moving away from primitive man.

“They’re hairless. We find a certain beauty in less hair now,” Develay said. “We want to be shinier, as far removed from cavemen as possible. We relate to them as an extension of us, because they’re modeled after us but don’t represent a particular race. They’re non-human. It’s symbolic of the society we live in. We like shiny things. We like pretty things.”

Develay isn’t concerned if art viewers relate to the work on a different level.

“It’s not really important that people understand what I was trying to express with the work,” she said. “It’s enough for them to enjoy the work as pretty objects. Above and beyond any message there is also the act of painting one can experience.”

Develay is working on her master of fine arts degree at UNLV. She also is a graduate assistant there. While she has no immediate plans for a follow-up show, she is continuing to work on the series.

“I’m working on another painting in the series for school right now,” she said. “When it’s done, it’s already slated to be sent to a Palm Springs gallery.”

For more information about the show, visit clarkcountynv.gov or call

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 380-4532.

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