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

Categories: Visual Art
matteo rubbi (claire lawton)_500.jpg
Claire Lawton
2. Matteo Rubbi at Combine Studios
Italian artist Matteo Rubbi was an artist in residence with ASU Art Museum throughout 2012. You might have bumped into him making masks for young First Friday goers, at "Magic Friday" dinners at the museum and in downtown Phoenix, or challenging the local view of how art can transform a space and the interaction between audience and gallery setting.

His research, interactions, and creations during his time in Phoenix were center stage at Combine Studios in downtown Phoenix in November, where he discussed culture aspects of mining in Arizona, urban transportation, and food as bridge between people of different cultural backgrounds.

His show included work on copper, chalkboard drawing, mixed-media pieces, and a large-scale board game Rubbi interpreted from a Jules Verne book. His work is smart and refreshing and his whimsical personality was something to be seen. Rubbi returned to Italy late this year, and now we just have to figure out how to get him to come back.

marril mural (claire lawton)_500.jpg
Claire Lawton
Carrie Marril's mural on Roosevelt Street
1. Carrie Marill's Tribute Mural
In March, hundreds of volunteers, Roosevelt Row staff members, and a group of local artists gathered on Roosevelt Street to build picnic tables, clean the sidewalks, and paint murals on a few of the neighborhood's buildings. Carrie Marill, whose art has traveled across the country (I spotted it in Soho in April and at SMoCA in October) designed a large cyclist for the flowerist on Roosevelt and Third Street.

It was a tribute to Margaret Kilgallen, a huge-name and well loved street artist who died in 2001. The man on an old-school cruiser with a striped top and a hefty baguette in his bike basket was immediately recognizable as Kilgallen-esque, and drew a variety of responses from the community. Many loved it, but in November, the mural was defaced on a Thursday night - painted over with huge red blocks of paint.

Marill assumed whoever painted over it thought it was merely a rip-off, not a tribute. She thought about painting a different design, but I'm glad that instead, on the following day, Marill and a few volunteers bit back, grabbed a few more buckets of paint, and repainted the design for a live, First Friday audience.

Claire Lawton edits Jackalope Ranch (, New Times' culture blog.

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