The word on the street is that members of a grassroots movement will be mounting a big display at Phoenix City Hall on Monday, October 28. But expect a bold artistic statement, not a political one: Artlink, the volunteer-run downtown arts organization, is holding its Sixth Annual Juried Exhibition, a diverse showcase of 44 pieces by 31 artists from across the entire state.
"It's a whole range of media and subject matter," says event chairman Richard Bledsoe. "We have everything from pure abstraction to photorealism."
A painter and member of Citywide Studios, Bledsoe came to the Valley two years ago from Richmond, Virginia, where he was chairman of the exhibition committee for a cooperative gallery. "I became interested in Artlink because I had this background in community art," he says.
Before long, Bledsoe embraced Artlink's do-it-yourself ethos. "It's a form of public service -- that's how I look at it. The quality of life is really enhanced when there is a very active art scene, but that takes a lot of work."
He acknowledges that maintaining an art scene requires a level of organization that doesn't always come naturally to artists. "But it needs to be done," he insists.
For this exhibition, Bledsoe enlisted the help of some official public servants: City councilman Michael Johnson and his staff sponsored Artlink's use of the City Hall atrium, and attorney general candidate and former mayor Terry Goddard is one of the jurors. Pat Haberman, director of Mesa Arts Center, and Rudy Turk, director emeritus of the ASU Art Museum, also are jurors.
City Hall seems to be a fitting venue for the show. If Bledsoe's attitude is any indication, Artlink members consider their efforts a civic duty. "I'm very proud of Phoenix and our emerging national identity," Bledsoe admits. "This is one of the places that's hot and happening right now, and we're all a part of it."