"The Joe and Jan Show" Canceled by Owner of Willo North Gallery in Phoenix

Categories: Visual Art

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Willo North invite
If you had planned to see The Joe and Jan Show at Willo North Gallery this Friday, you'll need to come up with a Plan B.

The exhibition, curated by Robrt Pela (who, full disclosure, also contributes to New Times), was canceled this morning by the gallery owner, Kristin Shears.

See also:
- Robrt Pela on Curation and the Phoenix Art Scene
- Artlink Launches Third Friday "Collectors Tours"

Pela says he received an email from Shears after he had told Shears he would be resigning at the end of March, when the Joe and Jan show was deinstalled. Shears, Pela says, told him that there would be no show.

"Three days before an opening for a show that was put on the schedule and has been in the works for more than eight months is not the time to cancel that opening," says Pela. "But I suppose everyone has their own agenda."

Pela has curated exhibitions in the space for two and a half years, and says for the Joe and Jan show, he commissioned 23 pieces and planned to show two pieces that had been previously created by Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, Eric Cox, Irma Sanchez, Kristin Bauer, and Peter Bugg (to name a few).

The show was inspired by a portrait of Sheriff Joe Arpaio painted by Eric Cox (which you might have spotted at this year's Chaos Theory at Legend City Studios). Pela says he began to notice artwork created by local artists in a variety of media that reflected the two infamous characters and their antics.

The curator also noted that he didn't receive any indication that Shears' decision was based on the show's content matter, but was a decision made after he had submitted his resignation.

While all 25 pieces are currently hanging in the gallery, according to Pela, the doors will not be open on Friday. Instead, Pela plans to relocate the show (he's already heard from more than 10 local galleries who would be willing to host since he announced the cancelation this morning) and has future plans of independent curating.

Pela posted on Facebook this morning: "Please spread the word: Willo North Gallery has unceremoniously cancelled my exhibit, THE JOE AND JAN SHOW. This exhibit, therefore, will not be opening this First Friday. I'm sorry -- especially for all the artists who spent weeks and months creating new work especially for this show. I will find a new venue for this exhibit and hope to open it elsewhere in March. In the meantime, I apologize."

Shears declined to comment, and directed us to her lawyer, Jason Kelly, who has not returned our calls.

Stay tuned for more details.

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My Voice Nation Help

I'm glad to hear the show was cancelled. The show should not go on. It is racist!  Organizations supporting it must be boycotted.

Bryan Bazley
Bryan Bazley

Glad to see 10 other galleries have stepped up and offered to show it at a later date. The show must go on!


I will surmise that the gallery must be in an area that is 'protected' by MCSO and someone likely suggested that their protection just might go away if the show were to go on. Conjecture, of course. I will be looking forward to seeing the show at another location.


@JoeArpaioFan How is this racist? Are you sure your not referring to Arpaio him self who hunts down people based on there skin profile. 


@Katherine Allen Niall Yes it was very cool it was cancelled.


@Tommy_Collins The show won't go on because if it does, just like on Law and Order, the sponsoring venue should be scrutinized with a fine tooth comb and cited for any violations of the law such as a dirty floor, restroom, criminal activity or any code violations.  No business cannot afford to have that happen.


@JoeArpaioFan @Tommy_Collins yeah, shakedowns are always a great thing in a free country.

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