By Benjamin Leatherman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Katrina Montgomery
By Robrt L. Pela
By Kathleen Vanesian
By New Times
By Ray Stern
By Eric Tsetsi
"Brian Alfred: The Future Is Now!" at the Phoenix Art Museum: New York-based artist Brian Alfred ponders corporate culture and rampant industrialization in his latest exhibition. Although Alfred's retro-futuristic paintings and collages emphasize society's fascination with the digital age and subsequent sensory overload, his collection of work is surprisingly sensory-friendly. Minimalist scenery blends well with a muted and serene color palette. While Alfred's subject matter is ordinary (i.e., an FBI building, a bridge, a streetscape), his combination of color, line and surface texture creates utopian-like imagery. The highlight of the exhibition is a large-scale video installation composed of alternating vignettes of the artist's paintings and sculptures appropriately titled Overload. Tranquil and hypnotic, thanks in part to a repetitive pulsating score, the video addresses society's technological addictions and their haphazard effect on nature and man. Through March 6. Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222. -- C.C.
Arizona Print Group at Tempe Public Library: To you, printmaking is just a way of churning out your band's fliers and tee shirts, but little did you know it's also a method of creating intricate artwork loaded with feeling. The Arizona Print Group's current exhibition features 40 unique hand-pulled works from more than 20 local artists, created through such methods as intaglio, relief, silkscreen and monotype. Although there are plenty of prosaic portraits of nature, several works pack a powerful and emotional punch. Christine Dawdy and Craig Carlson's Rodeo-Chediski Fire is a nightmarish monotype over wax print of a crimson shroud consuming wildlife against a backdrop of black smoke and burned trees. On the other end of the spectrum is Wendy Willis' Bevy of Bathers III, an ethereal underwater vision of several swimmers in the solitude of the deep. Through February 16. Tempe Public Library Lower Level Gallery, 3500 S. Rural Rd., Tempe, 480-350-5162. -- B.L.
"Will Wilson: Auto Immune Response" at the Heard Museum: How do you survive in a postapocalyptic world? According to Will Wilson, the key to survival lies in an understanding of the past. The Navajo photographer explores this, as well as the concepts of Native American identity and connection to the land, through a series of powerful, in-your-face, mixed-media and photo-based installations. Wilson draws from his own past (the alienation felt as a child in exile at Phoenix Indian School) and that of his people to produce moving images that challenge established stereotypes of Native American art and the people who create it. Most poignant is a life-size steel hogan -- a refashioning of the traditional dwelling and its contents as a result of exposure to Anglo society and technology. Through September. Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848. -- C.C.
"Dennis Oppenheim: Alternate Current" at the ASU Art Museum: The diversity of Dennis Oppenheim's 37-year investigation of the natural and manmade is on display here. Scale models and drawings from the late 1960s show how Oppenheim transformed landscape into sculpture by pruning hedges, digging holes in the earth, and crisscrossing the ground with 12-inch-thick concrete pipes. More recent works are artificially animated by electricity and machinery causing humanlike marionettes to dance, and animal forms to breathe or shoot flame. In Lightning Bolt Man, even the elemental forces of lightning, which have impaled and struck dead two fiberglass human figures, are faked. The figures don't glow from the lightning strike but instead from electricity supplied by the visible extension cord and outlet in the gallery wall. Through February 5. ASU Art Museum in Tempe, southeast corner of 10th St. and Mill Ave., 480-965-2787. -- R.N.
"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. Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa, 480-644-2230. -- A.Y.