Art Detour

Some of the Valley's finest artists are getting the hell out of Phoenix

John Spiak, director of festivals for the Arizona State University Art Museum, says one of the biggest problems for emerging contemporary artists in Phoenix is a lack of gallery space. For those who are a step above Holga's (the downtown Phoenix artist colony that apparently accepts anyone) but not ready for Scottsdale's big-money galleries, there is little in between. With a few exceptions (such as ArtOne in Scottsdale and Studio LoDo in Phoenix), "there's nobody representing, selling, and taking risks on emerging artists," Spiak says.

The market, he adds, is definitely there. "Some of the biggest collectors in the United States have primary and secondary homes here. They're looking for emerging artists," he says. "Do they go to [the smaller, less-established galleries that show on] First Friday? No. Do they go to LoDo? Yes, because they are showing edgy work."

Spiak adds that the resources are there for those motivated enough to take advantage of them. Often a nationally known artist will give a lecture and only a handful of people will show up. "Too many artists are lazy," he says. "The ones that make it are the ones who show up at every event in town."

I Am an Incredibly Powerful Business Person by Casey McKee.
I Am an Incredibly Powerful Business Person by Casey McKee.

"It's an exciting time," Spiak says, referring to downtown Phoenix galleries like eye lounge, 515 and Modified, which are now coming into their own. The arts community in Phoenix is young, he says, and the momentum is there. But there's still much room for improvement. "We need more galleries that know how to treat artists with respect, how to court collectors and how to install a show properly. We could use five more. It's all part of the growth process and it's gonna take us a while."

E-mail, or call 602-229-8440.

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