Artist Sue Chenoweth Remembers Oleanders from Her Childhood in Phoenix

Kathleen Vanesian
Sue Chenoweth in her studio

Best of Phoenix hits newsstands Sept. 26. In conjunction with this year's Vintage Phoenix theme, New Times is collaborating with R. Pela Contemporary Art to present "Hot Plate!" It's an exhibition of one-of-a-kind, Phoenix-inspired commemorative plates made by local artists. Leading up to the show's Oct. 4 opening, we're profiling each of the contributing artists and visiting their studios. Today: Sue Chenoweth.

Known for her complex, enigmatic paintings and drawings, multi-media artist Sue Chenoweth embraced art as a professional career later than most artists, attending and graduating from ASU at an age when most people would find it daunting, if not impossible. Her late start notwithstanding, Chenoweth has managed to gain national and international recognition for her work and in recent years has been honored with solo exhibitions at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as inclusion in nationally curated group shows.

See also: Hot Plate! Best of Phoenix Commemorative Collaboration Opens Oct. 4 at R. Pela Gallery

Kathleen Vanesian
Sue Chenoweth in her studio
The artist can usually be found working in her home studio -- a blend of mid-century modern and artistic chaos -- on any number of projects, with her Shepard/chow mix dog, Darla, usually curled up on the studio floor beside her. When not slathered in paint or swimming with sharks (literally), Sue Chenoweth teaches advanced visual arts classes at Metropolitan Arts Institute in downtown Phoenix.

What's your earliest memory of Phoenix?
My family moved here when I was four. We moved into an apartment for just a few months; nearby, there was this whole compound surrounded by huge oleanders, white and pink. We would stand there and my mother would take pictures of it. We were from Plainview, Texas, and we didn't have oleanders there. Only tornadoes.

Location Info


R. Pela Contemporary Art

335 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: General

Metro Arts Institute

1700 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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Correction: The school that is building the set of Metro Art's play is Corona del Sol and not Cornado.

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