If the Icehouse smells like a stable on Friday, July 9, don't be discouraged. The open-air art venue still caters to art enthusiasts and primo partygoers -- but with a twist of benevolence.
"Amalgamation," a one-night art exhibition to benefit Gilbert's Wildhorse Ranch Rescue, starts at 6 p.m. Friday and runs until dawn with what promises to be a freaky after-party. The first-time event starts with a low-key reception, featuring works by house artists from Art Awakenings, a nonprofit art program in downtown Phoenix, and the Mudpony Gallerie of Wildhorse Ranch.
While some of the paintings will depict horses, cats and other cutesy animals, Wildhorse Ranch Rescue president Kim Meagher promises a bit of the risqué as well.
"People tend to think that the art that comes from the ranch is all cowboy, but some of it's a bit provocative," says Meagher, who will represent the ranch at the event. "It ranges from nude horses to nude women."
Case in point: Sweet Succulent Sting (pictured), a black-and-white snapshot from J West Photography, offers a close-up of a woman's bare breast, her wine-colored nipple supporting a sadistic scorpion.
In addition to photography, mixed-media works include bronze and wax sculpture, paintings, drawings and film. Three live foals will be present to tug at the heartstrings of horse lovers, but Meagher insists that the main focus will fall on the art.
"We appreciate that not everybody's interested in horses," she says. For those who are, however, Meagher will provide information about the ranch, which she started in 1995 after the death of her own horse.
A music showcase rounds out the evening, featuring Daughters of Fission at 7:30 p.m., Sound of Birds at 8:30, and The Mad Caps at 9:30, in addition to DJs spinning on the patio.
Finally, the carnival-like after-party kicks off at 11 p.m. in the Cathedral Room. On tap: music, "creepy art," and a performance by the self-proclaimed "master of mystic arts" Doctor Stephen Strange. Drag kings and queens get into the party for free -- a promotion that caused at least one woman to pull her sponsorship from a homeless horse.
"It's funny and sad at the same time," says "Amalgamation" CEO Hunter Hoffman, who conceived the event. "The whole point of the show is that it's built on the energy and enthusiasm that's coming from so many buried and vibrant sources here in Phoenix, and that includes the gay and transsexual communities."
Hoffman says she wanted to combine her volunteering efforts at the ranch with her love of local art-- and to provide entertainment for Valley residents who stick around to sweat out the summer.
She adds, "Hopefully, out of every 100 people we talk to about this organization, one or two of them will talk to someone else about it."
As for the Icehouse's avant-garde reputation, Meagher says a few foals won't ruin it.
"I love that we're going to have horses downtown," she says. "We still are a Western town."