Las Vegas artist and gallery owner Alexander Huerta died Monday, saddening an entire arts community.
Huerta was a well-known painter, a muralist and a member of the 3BaadSheep arts collective.
He was also the owner of PeaceNArt Gallery, a mainstay of the Arts Factory and a common meeting place for community members of the Arts District.
Alexander Sky is a local artist and member of the 3BaaadSheep art collective, of which Huerta was also a founding member.
“He had dabbled in many different little styles. He was really experimental with his art. He was free with his art,” Sky said.
Sky said he met Huerta at an art show but didn't really connect with him until an event six months later where they collaborated on an impromptu art project.
“People really loved what we were doing and that piece – somebody wanted to buy it right off the gate,” he said.
From there, they came together with Eddie “Cicifu” Canumay to create 3BaadSheep. Sky said Huerta came up with the name on the spot, during an interview about their collective.
“It’s more about breaking free from the pack and following your truth, being free in who you are,” he said.
Huerta has created some of the murals seen around downtown Las Vegas.
“Las Vegas being - say a place that’s viewed as predominately as a dark place. There’s a lot of dark things that happen here. Alex was a light in the darkness,” Sky said. “He livened up the neighborhoods with all of his beautiful color choices.”
It wasn't just about the art Huerta created but where he created that art.
Brian "Paco" Alvarez is a former member of the 18b Arts District Neighborhood Association and a friend of Huerta's.
He said Huerta was always in the Arts District, even painting on the street before he got a studio and gallery of his own.
“He was open – seven days a week – every single day for ... almost 11 and a half years,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez described his friend as a "cheerleader" for the district, encouraging gallery owners and artists to keep their doors open even if no customers came in.
He said the scene at Huerta's gallery was almost a cross between a community center and an art studio.
“Alex was incredibly hospitable. He was a great personality. Loved people. Loved to talk about his story and loved to inspire young artists and people who weren’t artists to create,” he said.
When he would walk down the street, people would honk at him and wave, Alvarez said. They always knew it was Huerta because he was covered in paint.
Alvarez said Huerta was never shy about talking about his personal journey to becoming an artist and the struggles he faced in his life. Alverez said that journey informed his friend's life every day.
“When you come close to going towards that final journey -- I’ve been down the road too -- you live your life every day and your pass on is what keeps you alive. Your creativity. The ability to just go and create and know that you’ll leave an impact, and that’s what drove him every single day. That’s very, very inspiring,” he said.
Sky remembers the work ethic his partner and friend had. He said even when he was sick, Huerta was at the studio working.
“The day before he went to the hospital, he had a whole series laid out on the table that he was still working on,” he said.
He also believes Huerta's legacy will be seen through the artists he inspired.
"The void that we’re going to be missing from him, may we carry on his legacy by implementing that in our personal lives -- the passion, the dedication [to] get up, be there, work and come together to better our district,” he said.
Alvarez has worked in the arts community in Las Vegas for a long time and he said Huerta's impact can't be overstated.
“I don’t think there has ever been a passing that has been as impactful and will be as impactful as Alex’s," he said, "He was not a classically trained artist. He is a naturally born artist. Someone who was born with the ability and his artwork will be in discussions by art historians many years in the future.”
Alexander Sky, artist and founding partner, 3BaaadSheep art collective; Brian “Paco” Alvarez, former member, 18b Arts District Neighborhood Association
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