Spreading community art and weatlh

-A A +A
By Birdie Jaworski

Abundancia manager Linzy Behr grins as she dons a black knit poncho. The echo of playful dogs reverberates through the newly-renovated second-hand store as artist Alex Ellis joins in the fun, pulling a thick “pleather” jacket from a plastic hanger.

“This store has a new breath of life,” says Ellis. He sweeps one arm across his body, showcasing the neatly-arranged merchandise. “Linzy’s done an incredible job with this place.”

Abundancia is a new second-hand business located in the old Waggin’ Tails thrift shop location at 1822 Seventh St.

Operated by humane animal rescue organization, TASC, Abundancia offers an eclectic mix of beautiful gently-used clothing, furniture, jewelry, cowboy boots, and handmade toys. In addition to providing household goods and textiles at low prices, the store is starting an art gallery, with its first show opening April 12, and featuring Ellis’ work.

“We first planned to open April 5, but when we realized that the community arts center meeting was planned for the same day,” says Ellis, referring to Main Street Las Vegas and UWC’s planned charrette on April 5 — a public input meeting designed to gather hopes and dreams for the old First Baptist Church proposed Las Vegas Arts and Culture Community Center. “We want to be sure that everyone attends the charrette and offers their input. The arts are a vital part of Las Vegas life.”

Ellis paints other-worldly pieces using an artistic medium called encaustic painting. His works celebrate the unknown, the nightmare, the intersection of light and dark that defines human life. The paintings almost whisper, almost shimmer, their layers of rich color deposited on old wood, on marcasite panel. His works invite the viewer to meditate, to contemplate the complex emotions of alienation, love, birth. In one painting, a splash of earthen colors implies spring, the rapid push of plant against earth. In another, a strutting peacock dances for a standing mouse, a seated deer. The mouse nearly escapes the canvas, his body alive, white, in a sea of pressed dirt.

“I’m doing the show not for myself, but for the community. For the animals. This is an incredible rescue organization. They need the support of our community,” Ellis explains.

Behr smiles as she listens to Ellis. Her eyes wander around the store, taking in a rack of elegant dresses, a mirrored plate hosting tiny ceramic pots, a low bench covered in handmade Burmese marionettes.

“We’re excited to have Alex’s art be the focus of our first show,” she says. “This is such a cool thing to be doing with the thrift store, for the community. The store has done a 180, it’s coming back into something vital. We have great deals here, but everything is nice and clean. We’re doing this for the animals, and we hope that the community comes out to support both Alex and the animals.”

Ellis’ paintings will be hung along the sandy-colored walls lining Abundancia’s street-side wall, where plenty of sunlight filters through the large windows. The store will hold an artist’s reception on Saturday, April 12, from 1-4 p.m. so that members of the community can meet Ellis and view and discuss his work.