Arizona Arts Education Access Is Improving, But Still Pretty Abysmal

Categories: News, Visual Art

Courtesy of Arizona Commission on the Arts
Student performing with the Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts.
Take note if you're keen on assuring the metro Phoenix art scene survives and thrives: Kids aren't getting equal or adequate access to arts education.

So says the analysis and recent report prepared by Quadrant Arts Education Research on behalf of the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Their 2014 update to a 2010 census of arts education in Arizona reveals that more kids had access to arts education in 2013 than in 2009. That's the good news. But there's bad news, too. More than 115,000 K-12 students don't have access to arts instruction by highly qualified arts teachers.

If Arizona isn't teaching kids to create and appreciate art, how can citizens expect them to grow up and become the next generation of artists and art lovers?

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Claire A. Warden Gets Introspective in "Mimesis" at Art Intersection

Categories: Events, Visual Art

Courtesy of Claire A. Warden
Using a unique process, Warden was able to achieve incredible photographic results like the one in this portion of No. 25 (Agency and Influence), 2014.
Claire A. Warden spits on her own art.

Maybe that's a little overly dramatic. More accurately, she used her own saliva in the processing for the constructed photographs in her upcoming exhibition, "Mimesis: A Presentation of the Self".

A current Art Intersection artist-in-residence, Warden will be showing about 10 to 12 of these abstract, thought-provoking, and somewhat cosmic photographs from Saturday, December 13, through Saturday, January 10, 2015, at the Gilbert photography gallery.

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Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West to Open in January 2015

Categories: News, Visual Art

Courtesy of Scottsdale's Museum of the West
The "after" vision for Western Spirit, scheduled to open January 15, 2105.
There's no shortage of Western art in Old Town Scottsdale, where folks encounter the city's official nickname: "The West's Most Western Town." Best known is Ed Mell's Jack Knife sculpture anchoring the intersection of Main Street and Marshall Way.

But soon you'll find works by Mell and more than 150 additional artists inside the city's soon-to-open cultural destination -- a two-story, 43,000-square-foot museum dubbed Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West.

It began as the dream of former Scottsdale mayor Herb Drinkwater, according to museum director Michael Fox. The museum, which is owned by the city of Scottsdale and operated by a nonprofit called Scottsdale Museum of the West, is scheduled to open to the public on January 15, 2015.

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5 Cool Things We Saw at December's First Friday

Categories: Visual Art

Lynn Trimble
The Fates is part of Lauren Lee's solo "Dreams" exhibition at {9} The Gallery.
December's First Friday was filled with opportunities to shop art for the holidays and openings for new exhibitions -- but also included one- and two-day events offering a fun assortment of creative works. Here's a roundup of our favorite finds.

The Fates by Lauren Lee

Most folks know Lauren Lee's work thanks to her mural depicting a trio of bright birds on an exterior wall of GreenHaus along Roosevelt Row. But we were pleased to see Lee's work beyond the bird motif during December's First Friday, which included the opening reception for Lee's solo exhibition "Dream" at {9} The Gallery. Fans of the bird theme will embrace her bird totems -- tall works of wood depicting a bevy of birds stacked one on top of the other. But "Dream" also includes Lee's ethereal landscapes and whimsical (with a hint of wicked) portraits of women included the trio of "fates" that feel like a modern day take on Shakespeare's three witches for Macbeth. Gallery goers were especially smitten with Lee's transformation of the gallery space with simple glass vases, hand-painted in colors from her landscapes and filled with dried flowers.

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5 Must-See First Friday Shows in Phoenix on December 5

Categories: Events, Visual Art

Courtesy of Alwun House
"Lighthouse" is another opportunity to see this installation from ArtelPHX.

You've got plenty of great options for First Friday this month. You can up your localist I.Q., explore darkness illuminated by art, rock the multimedia vibe, and support an emerging artist with our must-see lineup.


Working with the theme of illumination, guest curator Landy Headley has gathered works by more than 30 artists for this Alwun House exhibit. Shown inside dark gallery spaces, these pieces exude their own light. The nifty combination of functional and conceptual art in various mediums includes light boxes, furniture, shrines, sculpture, neon works, videos, lamps, and interactive light installations.

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George Morrison Retrospective "Modern Spirit" Takes the Long View at Phoenix's Heard Museum

Categories: Review, Visual Art

Collection Minnesota Museum of American Art. Museum Purchase.
Spirit Path, New Day, Red Rock Variation: Lake Superior Landscape by George Morrison (Chippewa), 1990, acrylic and pastel on paper, 22 1/2 x 30 1/8 in.

The Heard Museum long has been a staple for entertaining swarms of holiday visitors intrigued by katsina dolls and turquoise jewelry. But that's a cop-out. There's far more to the landscape of American Indian artwork, as evidenced by the Heard's newest exhibition, "Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison." The exhibition, which helps to dispel stereotypes about Native art, highlights 80 works by Minnesota-born Morrison, a 20th-century painter and sculptor affiliated with the abstract expressionism movement.

When the National Museum of the American Indian opened a decade ago in Washington, D.C., its inaugural exhibition was "Native Modernism: The Art of George Morrison and Allan Houser." It's evidence of Morrison's significance in the pantheon of American Indian artists and a reminder that Native art extends beyond pottery and baskets. Still, many who readily recognize works by Houser, including his Earth Song sculpture at the Heard's entrance, don't know a Morrison piece when they see one.

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Randy Slack Returns to His Artistic Roots with Retrospective Exhibition at Luhrs City Center in Downtown Phoenix

Categories: Events, Visual Art

Brandon Sullivan
Randy Slack readying his retrospective exhibition at Luhrs City Center.
Artist Randy Slack, best known around these parts for presenting the annual "Chaos Theory" exhibition at Legend City Studios in Phoenix, recalls childhood days spent "toodling around" with his dad, an elevator mechanic whose beat included the Luhrs Building originally developed by German immigrants.

Today it is part of the newly-restored Luhrs City Center in downtown Phoenix, between Central and First Avenues, and Jefferson and Madison Streets. It includes the Luhrs Building and Tower, a pair of high-rises built during the 1920s and connected by a two-story Luhrs Arcade. A 19-story Luhrs City Center Marriott and six-level parking structure are scheduled to open in 2016.

During the 1990s, when Slack was in his 20s and beginning his journey as a self-taught artist, he figured he'd need "a city studio in the center of town." Slack remembered time spent at the Luhrs Building and finagled his way into securing a small basement space he describes as "a 300-square-foot closet with no windows or nothing."

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A Brief History of Tempe Art Collective The Paper Knife

Categories: Visual Art

The Paper Knife
The Paper Knife has been hosting rock-and-roll shows, jazz nights, and art exhibitions in Tempe throughout the past year.

Throughout the past year, The Paper Knife has never ceased to bring something special to the creative scene in Tempe. Up until September of 2014, there were one or two Paper Knife events each month, if not more. This multimedia collective, encompassing visual art, music, and publishing, accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Though its members are taking a breather from a busy year (and because most of the leaders are students at ASU), there's still a lot left for them to do. With several exhibitions and events on their résumé and a few publications under their belt, this young collective will surely be gaining momentum in the coming year.

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"Shifting Sands" Transports Viewers to Middle East at ASU Art Museum

Categories: Review, Visual Art

Courtesy of the artist and Galeria SENDA.
Isabel Rocamora, "Horizon of Exile," U.K., 2007. (detail of film still). Dual channel film for installation, 16 mm transferred to digital.

It's dark.

The walls are black, the carpeting is black, and even the beanbags offered as seating are black. This dark environment pulls you in as you pass by. It's hard to ignore the images on the screens and the sounds of revving engines and children screaming.

This is the opening scene to "Shifting Sands: Recent Videos from the Middle East" at the ASU Art Museum. The exhibition presents the film and video works of four international artists in their quest to show the changing cultural, political, and geographical environments across the Middle Eastern landscape.

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RAW Phoenix's CURRENT at Monarch Theatre: Refreshing, Despite Underwhelming Visual Art

Photo by Zaida Dedolph; Styled by Sophia Idowu
Sophia Idowu's hair and makeup show featured goddess-like golden accents and shimmering natural makeup.

RAW:Natural Born Artists is an international organization that aims to unite local fashion designers, musicians, and artists of all ilks. Their most recent Phoenix showcase, entitled CURRENT (yes, all caps) made its way to the Monarch Theatre on November 19. We were there to check it out.

There was something refreshing about CURRENT. RAW was established to help creatives with less than 10 years of experience succeed by providing exposure, community, and support. Some of the works featured were clearly by amateurs; others demonstrated a higher level of sophistication. While there were certainly some ubiquitous visual art exhibitions (can we just get over photographing desert landscapes and vintage signs? Please?), there were plenty of others that were visually striking, intellectually compelling, or simply beautiful.

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