The 10 Best Art Exhibitions and Installations I Saw in Phoenix in 2012

Categories: Visual Art

Boneyard Project A Super DC-3 plane painted by How & Nosm (claire lawton).jpg
Claire Lawton
Boneyard Project: A Super DC-3 plane painted by How & Nosm
As 2012 comes to a close, it's time to look back on some of the most interesting, exciting, and breathtaking art I had the pleasure of seeing throughout Arizona. From paintings and murals to exhibitions and installations, here are my top picks of 2012.

See also:
- Jason Woodbury's "10 Best Things I Heard in 2012"
- Laura Hahnefeld's "10 Best Things I Ate in 2012"
- Commercial Art Is Keeping Phoenix Artists Afloat -- But At a High Cost
- Art That Makes Phoenix Irresistible

10. Boneyard Project at Pima Air and Space Museum
In January, Eric Firestone and Carlo McCormick (with the help of a few heavy-machine-driving professionals) dragged three DC Super 3 planes, a C45, a Lockheed VC140, a C97 cockpit, and dozens of nosecones were dragged out of the boneyard, a collection of dusty, non-functioning planes near Pima Air and Space Museum, and gave them a new life.

The two are big-name curators in New York (though Firestone once operated a gallery in Arizona) and after seeing the pieces, they brought SMoCA's Lesley Oliver on board, called up a dream lineup of contemporary artists and gave them the opportunity to paint on a very different kind of canvas.

It was an incredibly massive and inspiring show that required a big budget, a tight timeline, a huge opening party, and an understanding that the large-scale pieces would ultimately be ephemeral works of art. After The Boneyard Project had its run at the museum, the nosecones traveled back to Firestone's gallery, but the planes stayed in Tucson, perhaps left back in the boneyard to be rediscovered.

jetsonorama on roosevelt.jpeg
Claire Lawton
Jetsonorama's "Postcard" on 7th Street
9. Jetsonorama's "Postcard" on Seventh Street
Jetsonorama is a longtime documentary photographer who creates black-and-white photographs in 3-foot strips before pasting them onto roadside stands, water tanks, and billboards in Shonto, Arizona.

In late 2011, the artist collaborated with Thomas "Breeze" Marcus on a billboard installation on 16th Street and in January 2012, he printed out an image Brazilian photographer Raul Zito captured in Sao Paulo and pasted it on Seventh Street (with details painted by Thomas Marcus) with just a ladder, a few buckets of wheat paste, and a small crowd of spectators.

Jetsonorama called it a postcard, a tribute to Zito who had pasted one of his pieces in Brazil. And despite the ephemeral nature of the piece, you can still spot its remnants on the red brick building on Seventh Street, north of Roosevelt, with a few of Jetsonorama's signature sheep.

Saski Jorda map workshop (claire lawton)_300.jpg
Claire Lawton
8. "Drawing with Thread," a Mapping Workshop and Installation by Saskia Jorda at Scottsdale Civic Center Library
Artist Saskia Jorda spent much of the summer of 2012 at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library. Jorda was Scottsdale Public Art's artist in residence, and over the course of a month, she transformed the library's gallery into an intertwining maze of stretched, white pantyhose and abstract yarn-wrapped bulbs that hung from the ceiling. Jorda described her installation as a "dialog between body and space."

And more than large-scale eye candy, Jorda's installation served as a frame in which Scottsdale Public Art held a number of workshops in conjunction with its 100+Journals project. In May, Jorda broke out her supply of thread and collection of maps and welcomed the public to explore line drawing, mapping, pattern and texture with string on paper.

The workshop was a rare opportunity to peek behind Jorda's process and obsession with cartography (though she'll admit she has a terrible sense of direction) in a very cool space.

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