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

Categories: Review, Visual Art

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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

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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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Richard T. Walker Disrupts the Notion of the Sublime at ASU Art Museum in Tempe

Categories: Review, Visual Art

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Mikey Estes
Richard T. Walker embodies and disrupts the Romantic archetype of man contemplating the landscape.

Upon entering Richard T. Walker's exhibition "the predicament of always (as we are)" at ASU Art Museum, the viewer is immersed in sound. Sound sculptures utilizing neon, keyboards, guitars, and rocks surround the space, and a two-channel video, from which the exhibition gets its name, is projected on the back wall. The artist, wearing a red t-shirt and dark jeans, is sitting in the White Sands National Monument in solitude, his back to us as he contemplates the scene and records himself talking on a cassette tape.

At times, the recording is muffled by wind and it becomes obvious that Walker's speech is not rehearsed. What he's saying is honest, personal, and raw. It's almost as if this tape was meant to be sent to someone close to the artist. While he is recording his thoughts, it's hard to not become immersed in your own. The viewer begins to embody this everyman role and becomes a part of the landscape. Even though the artist is alone during his journey through the desert, it's as if we are a part of it, too.


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Phoenix Sky Harbor Artwork: A Viewing Guide

Categories: Travel, Visual Art

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Phoenix Airport Museum
Entrance to the Phoenix Airport Museum Gallery located in Terminal 4.
It's hard to escape trips to the airport this time of year. Most of us either travel during the holidays or get airport duty when friends and family roll in and out of town. Instead of dreading the experience, make time while you're at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to explore artworks exhibited in terminals, Sky Train stations, and the rental car center. They're part of something called the Phoenix Airport Museum, which exhibits items in the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Public Art Collection.

The collection includes more than 900 works of contemporary art. Most are exhibited at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport rather than tucked away in storage. Some are exhibited at Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, and some at Phoenix Goodyear Airport.


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Amada Cruz Named Phoenix Art Museum Director

Categories: News, Visual Art

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Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum
Amada Cruz will replace Jim Ballinger at Phoenix Art Museum.

Amada Cruz will be Phoenix Art Museum's new director, the museum's board of trustees announced in a press release on Monday, November 17.

Cruz will take on the role on February 1, 2015, replacing longtime director James Ballinger, who announced in April 2014 his intention to retire after nearly 40 years with the museum.

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40Owls Pop-up Gallery in Phoenix Presents Fortoul Brothers' Polished Primitivism

Categories: Review, Visual Art

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Lynn Trimble
Opening reception for "Fortoul Brothers: Solo Exhibition" in Phoenix.
Before seeing the solo Fortoul Brothers exhibition inside a pop-up gallery in Phoenix, we never wondered what a cosmic stew of Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, and Steve Jobs might look like. But now we think we know, thanks to Friday, November 14's opening reception for a seamless mix of art with commerce best described as "polished primitivism."

It's the work of artist Isaac Fortoul and his older brother Gabriel, who wears both manager and curator hats. They describe themselves as "two Columbian brothers born and raised in the outskirts of New York City." Think Union City, New Jersey. For a time they lived in Phoenix, but it's been seven years since they exhibited works here.

In the interim, they've shown work in and beyond NYC, and established a "nomadic gallery" that takes art and merchandise on the road. They dubbed it 40Owls, playing with the phonetic pronunciation of their last name. By removing the space between the digit and the letter "O" that follows, they've mirrored the infinity symbol that's a common thread woven within much of their work.


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"Materialize" Exhibit at Shemer Art Center Explores Art, 3D Technology Intersection

Categories: Review, Visual Art

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Lynn Trimble
Stacking Bull by David Van Ness, a work made with silica filled resin, is part of "Materialize" at Shemer Art Center in Phoenix.
Man versus machine. To many, it's a theoretical battle best enjoyed via books or big screen. For artists, it cuts to the very nature of their craft. How do the tools artists use shape their ideas, process, and finished product?

It's an intriguing question posed with full force in the "Materialize: 3D Printing & Rapid Prototyping" exhibition at Shemer Art Center in Phoenix, which includes diverse works created using a variety of 3D technologies.


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"Vanitas" Exhibition Explores Love and Death at Phoenix Art Museum

Categories: Review, Visual Art

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Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum
Joel-Peter Witkin Teatro di Morte (Threatre of Death), 1989 gelatin silver print-toned Overall: 20 x 16 in (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Collection Stéphane Janssen
We're fortunate in metro Phoenix to feel the rich influence of Latin arts and culture not only during Dia de los Muertos celebrations, but year-round as well. Local artists including Lalo Cota infuse their work with skulls and other familiar symbols for death.

In a world divided by geography and ideology, our only commonality is the certainty of death. It's a shared human experience reflected in artworks dubbed "vanitas," a Latin term translated as "vanity." The genre has special appeal for Belgian art collector Stéphane Janssen, who lives in Arizona.

His gifts to the Phoenix Art Museum and ASU Art Museum, which are substantial, include Viola Frey's glazed ceramic "Nude Man" sculpture. It sits near the stairwell you'll descend to explore Phoenix Art Museum's new exhibition titled "Vanitas: Contemporary Reflections on Love & Death from the Collection of Stéphane Janssen."


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40Owls Presents "Fortouls Solo Exhibition" in Downtown Phoenix

Categories: Events, Visual Art

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Courtesy of 40Owls
The Fortouls brothers will be brining 40Owls and their solo exhibition to Phoenix November 14.
It's been seven years since the Fortoul brothers had an art show in Phoenix.

That's because artist Isaac Fortoul and his manager, curator, and older brother Gabriel run what they call "a nomadic gallery." Together, under their signature art brand, 40 Owls (a phonetic play on their last name, "for-t-ouls") this fraternal duo uses the freedom of being their own two-man wrecking crew to constantly create new works and experiment new mediums.

"The most fulfilling moments are when we set up these exhibitions under 40Owls. We find a space to work with that inspires us, we come up with a theme, we create a show, we promote it, we design it," says Gabriel Fortoul.

In this case, the space is 815 North Central Avenue, an empty building that is currently being transformed with lights, partitions, and an exhibition by the Fortouls. The temporary 40Owls Gallery will open with a private reception on Friday, November 14, but come Wednesday, December 31, the brothers and their work will be gone.


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5 Must-See First Friday Shows in Phoenix on November 7

Categories: Events, Visual Art

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Photo courtesy of Jorge Torres.
"The Higher Plane" by Ashley Macias.

First Friday heats up tonight with creative works going up all over the city. Here are our picks for shows you will not want to miss on Friday, November 7.

"The Higher Plane"

November's First Friday is filled with dreams and imagination. Ashley Macias's "The Higher Plane" takes this to another level by combining natural environments with mystical elements. Her acrylic and spray paint pieces use bold lines to create works that seek to understand a deeper consciousness and provoke introspection in viewers.


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