Art Scene

 Xicanindio at Tempe Public Library: Tucked away upstairs in the Tempe Public Library are prints from local and regional Latino/Chicano and Native American artists produced at Mesa's tiny but vibrant Xicanindio Artes. Xicanindio is more than just a place for artists to make prints -- it's one of the surprisingly few local arts organizations dedicated to presenting indigenous art and culture. The City of Tempe's Cultural Services Division organized the show with Xicanindio's director, Dina Lopez. Highlights of the exhibition include Randy Kemp's intriguing Indian version of a centaur, Martin Moreno's funky Zoot Suit, and Baje Whitethorne's touching auntie-and-child scene. The works are all monotypes and mono silkscreens -- which means they're unique pieces, not multiples or editions. Most were produced during one of Xicanindio's group printing workshops which encourage artists to inspire each other's creativity by working together. Through November 15, Tempe Public Library, second floor gallery, 3500 S. Rural Rd., Tempe, 480-350-5500 or www.xicanindio.com. -- G.C.C.

"The Art of the Bullfight" at Lisa Sette Gallery: With regrets to PETA, the passion of the bullfight is alive and well at Lisa Sette Gallery. Works range from Ruvan Afanador's intimate portraits of the sensuous bodies and sparkling costumes of the matadors to Livia Corona's shots of Enanitos Toreros or Midget Bullfighters (yes, little people with teenaged bulls). Jessica Joslin's Diminuito, a tiny bull's head assembled from what appears to be a bird skull accented by antique hardware, shows well alongside Jorge Simes' emotional, poetry-strewn paintings (with haunting text like "No, don't plunge it into me"). Overall, there's more than a little sympathy for the bulls while the bullfighters elicit a vigorous respect despite their controversial talents. Most important, the artworks shown are beautifully rendered, sensitive portrayals of one of the world's oldest sports. Through September 28, Lisa Sette Gallery, 4142 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale, 480-990-7342. -- G.C.C.

"Imagine That!" at the West Valley Art Museum: The current selection at this oft-forgotten spot includes an exhibition organized by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum titled "Imagine That! A Whimsical Take on Nature." The idea was to challenge traditional wildlife artists to create images of fictional animals -- merging species, switching characteristics, placing them in new contexts. New York artist Alexis Rockman has done well with the concept in his series of works exploring the issues surrounding genetics research. The result at West Valley is sometimes a little more cute than socially biting, but overall there are some intriguing forms and a lot of really well-executed paintings. Highlights include Nicholas Wilson's feathered bunnies, Richard Sloan's Grazing Hammerhead Storks, and David Rankin's animalistic versions of Megabytes (wart hog-ish) and Pixels (stork-like birds). Through August 29 at the West Valley Art Museum, 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts (114th Ave. and Bell Rd.), Surprise, 623-972-0635. -- G.C.C.

7th Avenue Streetscape: The new light box installation on Seventh Avenue north of Indian School Road is not your typical public art project. Unlike most, its artwork will change twice a year, giving the neighborhood a vibrant boost and artists a round of opportunities to get their work out on the street. The revitalization project is one of the city's liveliest to date and proof that there is still creative energy -- and, more important, support for it -- in the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. Composed of three large, double-sided Plexiglas panels lighted from inside and placed within a newly landscaped plot, the artworks on display are actually reproductions of paintings by local artists Quetzal Guerrero, Elizabeth Pfeiffer and Erin Sotak. Selected by a panel that included the area's business owners and residents, the location has actual potential to become a local gathering spot -- especially as the panels change every six to eight months, earning the site its intriguing tag line of "an ongoing urban gallery." Current works up through December, intersection of Seventh Ave. and Glenrosa, Phoenix, 602-262-4637. -- 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.

 
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