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

Categories: Visual Art
James Turrell Skyspace (claire lawton)_500.jpg
Claire Lawton
4. James Turrell's Skyspace in Tempe
As soon as the construction fencing around a mysterious glowing structure on ASU's Tempe campus came down, I drove down (in a lightning storm, no less) to see what all the mumbling was about. The glowing structure was the latest skypsace designed and built by Arizona artist James Turrell along with Phoenix-based architect Will Bruder, who designed Burton Barr Library, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Nevada Museum of Art (to name a few).

Turrell's work relies on light and environment, and his series of "skyspace" installations (including the Knight Rise at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art) capture and frame the natural light and create a constantly changing visual experience for the audience. His skyspace in Tempe is a slight departure, in that Turrell relies both on the light of the sky and on man-made light and color reflected on the large-scale frame that's suspended by a metal structure surrounding the installation.

The colors change periodically and the best time to sit and watch the show is half an hour before sunrise and/or sunset, when the color of the sky and the color of Turrell's frame change most dramatically -- or in a lightning storm, when the colors, lights, and surroundings get really interesting.

Chaos Theory (claire lawton)_300.jpg
Claire Lawton
3. Chaos Theory 13 at Legend City Studio
Randy Slack's Chaos Theory art show is always a spectacle. Once a year, the local artist clears the walls of Legend City Studios, which he owns with three photographers (Jason Grubb, John Balinkie, and Brandon Sullivan), and hangs dozens of pieces by local artists -- usually within 24 hours.

This year was especially notable, as Slack had to explain a few curatorial decisions to the community days before the big opening. But, as usual, the night went off with a bang and without a hitch. Hundreds crowded into the gallery to see work by more than 60 artists (about the closest we get to a Thursday night in Chelsea).

They looked, they laughed, they brought their kids, who climbed over each other (and around the artwork) to create one of Chaos Theory's most "community-centric" feeling events since its inception.

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