Press Release – New Exhibition Celebrating Vaquero Culture Opens at the High Desert Museum, May 2023

Monday, May 15, 2023
Contact: Heidi Hagemeier, director of communications, 541-382-4754 ext. 166,


New Exhibition Celebrating Vaquero Culture Opens at the High Desert Museum

BEND, OR — Imagine strolling through a life-size diorama that takes you on a journey through the world of vaqueros—Latinx cowboys—brought to life with vibrant piñata paper. That is the experience multidisciplinary artist Justin Favela is bringing to the High Desert Museum in a new, original exhibition Vistas del Cielo, opening on Saturday, May 27.

Favela, who is based in Las Vegas, Nevada and Springdale, Arkansas, is well known for his large-scale installations and sculptures using colorful piñata material. His work invites visitors to experience playful landscapes of color and texture.

Vistas del Cielo takes the visitor on an immersive journey through a sometimes-overlooked history and culture of vaqueros, braceros and traqueros who have worked, roped and ranched throughout the region’s history. Vistas del Cielo translates to “views from the sky.” Meant to feel accessible and at the same time evoke reverence, the installation is described by Favela as “a kid’s imagination of their grandfather’s story in an amusement park.” He calls art his way of taking up space and expressing joy.

Favela’s humble piñata materials transform into floating panes of paper stained glass in homage to the old churches visited with his grandfather, who was a vaquero. A Guatemalan-Mexican-American, Favela aims to reach across generational lines to celebrate the rich history of Latinx experiences in the High Desert region.

“I am interested in exploring the notions of authenticity, place and identity, using familiar materials to make large-scale installations, sculptures and paintings,” Favela said.

Vistas del Cielo is a celebratory experience,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “The intergenerational aspect of this exhibit—of Favela’s family and how that might have similarities to the visitors’ families—speaks to our own Museum efforts to make this a place that sparks curiosity for everyone.”

Favela’s unique installations have been on exhibit at numerous institutions throughout the country including the Denver Art Museum in Colorado, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and Meow Wolf: Omega Mart in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was the recipient of the 2018 Alan Turing LGTBIQ Award in the category of International Artist and was awarded the Joan Mitchell Fellowship in 2021. Favela earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in fine art from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Favela also hosts two culture-oriented podcasts, “Latinos Who Lunch” and “The Art People Podcast.”

Vistas del Cielo ( will be on display through November 26, 2023. The exhibit is made possible by Gold 107.7 with support from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.


THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and was a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.