For the past few years, artist Albert Reyes has been building Halloween mazes in his backyard. Last week, Reyes brought his pet project to Mastodon Mesa at the Pacific Design Center for his one-night-only solo show “Never Dies the Dream.”
Last Halloween, we visited Reyes' maze and interviewed him about the project. In keeping with the concept behind the maze, Reyes built a new structure recycling the found materials he has used in previous years. He spent twenty hours over the course of about four days building the maze inside the gallery.
“He is a madman with his hands,” said Graham Kolbeins, who co-curated the show.
Reyes took the venue into consideration when designing the piece. Because the gallery had a low ceiling that was painted black, he didn't place a roof on it. The maze was about half the size of the one in his yard, but built with longer hallways and more window-like spaces. He also reversed the wood panels so that the interior artwork now faced outward, allowing him to take advantage of the mirrors in the space. There were problems, mostly in dealing with the fire marshal and various codes that are involved with a project of this nature, but in the end, patrons were able to enjoy Reyes' creation.
Throughout the evening, visitors could traverse the maze, check out some of the artwork that was scattered inside, and maybe encounter a werewolf played by Reyes' brother. It was a project that worked surprisingly well in a gallery months away from Halloween.
“I'm grateful to be in this space,” said Reyes. “I think it's unexpected, it doesn't go with everything that's here.”
But the maze was only one part of “Never Dies the Dream.” Mastodon Mesa was adorned with Reyes' sketches and paintings which, as is usual for his work, were arranged in clusters across the walls. His work depicts various aspects of modern life, mixing portraits of families with references to political figures and pop culture icons in ways that comment on issues of racism, classism and environmental concerns. In a mirrored corner across from the maze, several trash bags laid in a pile, waiting for people to pick them up and swing them around in a friendly battle. It was a last minute addition to the exhibit.
Reyes explained that the bags were filled with plastic wrapping that they had used while transporting the art to the gallery and one of his friends had started something “kind of like pillow-fighting” with the bags.
“The space needed something,” he added, before taking a moment to note the issues of waste that are often reflected in his work.
“Even though I try to be an environmentalist and think about recycling materials, we actually made all that waste,” he lamented. “It's sad. There's no way to win.”
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