My Long-Term Relationship With Vegas

by Anjelica Jardiel


I’ve known Las Vegas since I was two years old. My parents are Filipino immigrants who settled in the suburbs of Los Angeles County shortly before I was born. Vegas was where we went for vacations every year, twice a year, until I was 16. I took a break for a while, because arcades no longer appealed to me, I could only shop with my mom for so long, and I was too young for the club.


For my 21st birthday, I made a comeback. That night, whilst rolling, I found out my boyfriend had been cheating on me. After him dodging me with a hand over the phone and incessant texts at a wee hour of the morning, I straddled him and punched him awake.


In 2011, I was banned from the Venetian and Palazzo hotels for life, because a random woman I never once had contact with accused me, a different ex-boyfriend and his best friend of stealing her phone at Tao Nightclub, and had us arrested by hotel security. I took another hiatus after that.


In September 2017, after 3 decades in Los Angeles, my mother retired in Las Vegas, right smack in between the strip and Red Rock Canyon, which lie about 15 miles apart. I was forced by these circumstances to return once again. This time, my intention was to ignite a new relationship with the desert. I spent the holidays searching for a new sense of home.


The Las Vegas strip is familiar to me, but this landscape was not. 600 million years ago, these 3,000 ft. rocks were underwater. I shot these pictures thinking, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you…”


While this series began as a meditative study of Red Rock Canyon and the Calico Basin, drawn to the textures and hues, it quickly evolved into a process of relating one image to another, of seeking connection, of observing self in environment and finding oneness.