Art Scene

A peek at five Valley exhibits

Reviews by Gina Cavallo Collins and Kathleen Vanesian "Flights of Fancy" at Sky Harbor Airport: Nestled in six wall cases on the way to Southwest and America West gates is another of the Sky Harbor Art Program's engaging exhibitions. "Flights of Fancy" includes artwork by 26 Arizona artists all relating to flight as a metaphor for fun, freedom and escape. From Robert Brubaker's stout ceramic Bob Dog, Ready for Anything, to Linda Ingraham's ethereal photos of birds, the range of interpretations of flight is what gives life to these shallow cases we all pass as we hurry to our own flights. Humor is a key element in many of the works. My favorites are Henry Gatewood's Hopi Koshari riding an America West plane (ironically placed near the Southwest wing) and a pilot with an uncharacteristically small head by S. Mindrum-Logan titled My Husband Is an America West Pilot: I Love a Man With a Jumbo Jet. Curator Lennee Eller says "there's something for everybody -- a real diversity of materials and approaches." Through August 1 on Level 3, Terminal 4, Sky Harbor Airport, 602-273-8863. --G.C.C.

Sandy Smith at Burton Barr Central Library: Tucson photographer Sandy Smith thinks your refrigerator can tell us a lot about you as a person. In her series of black-and-white photos auspiciously titled "The Refrigerator Project," Smith explored the personalities of 25 women of varying ages through images and conversations with them in front of their largest kitchen appliance. "The refrigerator is really a contemporary scrapbook and bulletin board," Smith said in a recent interview. "And what's on the fridge varies by generation." Older women tended toward emergency numbers and doctor appointment reminder cards while young women without children displayed snapshots of friends and party invitations. The stereotypical children's artwork was naturally covering the young moms' fridges while those in the middle had the neater, tidier display of political statements and poetry. The conversations Smith had with these women are transcribed and included as a part of the work, giving each piece its deeply human appeal. Through June 29, Burton Barr's @ Central Gallery, 1221 N. Central Ave., 602-256-3521. --G.C.C.

"southwestNET: PHX/LA" at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art: Not one of SMoCA's finest presentations, "PHX/LA" promises a fresh look at the Southwest's unique version of urban life in Phoenix and Los Angeles, with all its attendant glories and problems, but fails overall to deliver much in the fresh department. The works of two Phoenix artists, Colin Chillag and Matthew Moore, and five L.A. artists, Steve Roden, Brian Cooper, Shirley Tse, Keith Sklar and Jared Pankin, are supposed to illustrate this theme. As usual, Chillag's paintings (three of which were recently shown at downtown's Modified Arts) are keepers. A sound-and-sculpture installation by Roden inspired by California modernist architect Wallace Neff's "bubble houses" from the 1940s, together with a gigantic, free-for-all painting by Sklar, make this otherwise wan excuse for a show from being a complete waste of a museum trip. Through September 5 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale, 480-994-ARTS. Reviewed May 13. --K.V.

"Double Vision" at the Phoenix Art Museum: There's a surprising harmony among the works of San Antonio artist Constance Lowe and Los Angeles artist Alicia Beach in their joint exhibition. Both manage to tame bright colors into soft, psychedelic tones. Both start from a central axis and create balanced, even images -- Beach by drawing two-handed and Lowe by drawing on one side of a Mylar sheet, then flipping it and repeating. Lowe's works are closer to her inspirational Rorschach ink blots, while Beach's have a wispier, more botanical feel, but they meld well together in one show because of their color and form. Although neither artist claims any intention to create particular objects with these abstract shapes, many of Lowe's pieces look like CAT-scan shots of body parts like skulls and uteruses -- the latter emphasizing the very feminine feel of the artwork in general. "Double Vision" is at the Phoenix Art Museum in the upstairs Marshall Gallery through August 15. 1625 N. Central Ave., 602-257-1880. -- G.C.C.

"Landscapes in the Fireplace: The Paintings of Pedro Alvarez" at the ASU Art Museum: This exhibition is a bittersweet experience for those familiar with this well-loved young Cuban artist and his irony-laced work. A collection of Alvarez's most recent paintings, ASU's exhibition unwittingly stands as a final tribute to the irreverent spirit that infuses his complex, multilayered paintings, since Alvarez committed suicide on February 12, 2004, in Tempe. To the end, his work put a tongue-in-cheek spin on less-than-lighthearted historical experience, including Latin American colonization, racism, cultural stereotyping and, of course, American globalization. Through June 19 at the Arizona State University Art Museum's Nelson Fine Arts Center, 10th St. and Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-965-2787. Reviewed April 1. --K.V.

 
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