Art Scene

The color and culture of five Valley art exhibits

 Day of the Dead at Museo Chicano: Local artist Ruben Maqueda presents a feast for the senses with an intimate exhibition honoring the dearly departed. Saturated with vibrant colors and intricately adorned with glitter, sequins, beads, candles and other found objects, the 20 cajitas (portable shrines) reflect the history and folklore of Mexico in an atypical way. While most Day of the Dead exhibitions contain traditional stock images and figures within their altars and shrines (think skeletons and skulls), Maqueda offers a diverse and refreshing collection of work that is comical, emotional and thought-provoking. Don't miss the somber Tribute to Those Who Did Not Make It -- addressing immigrant death -- to the glitzy and over-the-top Zapata Superstar -- venerating infamous Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata. Group tours and workshops on shrine and altar making are available by appointment. Through November 30. Museo Chicano, 147 E. Adams St., Phoenix, 602-257-5536. -- C.C.

"Arab Americans in Arizona" at Mesa Southwest Museum: This exhibition explores the migration of Arabic-speaking people to Arizona since the latter part of the 19th century, with a focus on examining the reasons that different nationalities from the Middle East chose to come to Arizona. Some were seeking opportunity and some were escaping asperity in their native lands; this is reflected in the diversity of the various Arab-American communities in central Arizona. The exhibition details the differences in each community, including religious beliefs, social customs, dress, family structure and language, and how those traditions have been assimilated into American culture. In addition to costumes, musical instruments, jewelry, calligraphy and historical items, the exhibition also shows the economic and cultural contributions the groups have made here. Through April 2005. Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa, 480-644-2230. -- A.Y.

Luis Carlos Bernal: "Barrios" at ASU Northlight Gallery: Though Luis Carlos Bernal died in 1993, his images are a timeless legacy. The exhibition of 82 photos, predominantly comprising color images, is a profound documentation of barrio life in the Southwest through the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a deeply affecting stylistic study guide for any aspiring photographer. Bernal champions regional diversity and the human spirit while symbolizing his own personal exploration of identity as a Mexican American. Pima Community College, where he taught for 17 years, has dedicated a gallery in his name. Through November 25, ASU Main Campus in Tempe; first floor of Matthews Hall, on the southeast corner of Tyler and Forest malls. 480-965-3468 or http://art.asu.edu/gallery/northlight/. -- A.Y.

Grand Opening at Red Dog Gallery: A combination of collective interests, including the cosmopolitan whimsy of gay Paree, the seductive power of the color red and, of course, the universal love of four-legged, drooly friends, has lent to the name of this new gallery in the ever-expanding downtown Phoenix arts district. In addition to the work of resident artists Randy Kinkel, Sylvia Frost, Robin Lieske and Shari Bombeck, the grand opening also features several guest artists representing various media. With glass and jewelry by Gail Bartlett, Marty Weslowski's architecture lamps, paintings by Mary Atkinson and Ron Floyd, Lisa Takata's puppy scarves and Steve Gompf's Televisor (courtesy of the Lisa Sette Gallery), Red Dog promises to be a hub for diverse talent and synergy. Through November, 812 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, 602-340-1838. -- A.Y.

Seventh 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 7th Ave. and Glenrosa, Phoenix, 602-262-4637. -- G.C.C.

 
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