Art Scene

Current shows, exhibitions and installations

"Street Credibility": Diane Arbus stars in an exhibition that puts her photos alongside the work of photographers who influenced her, and the ones who followed in her footsteps. The exhibition fails to show how the accidental strangeness of documentary photography morphed into the deliberate strangeness of art photography, because in the age of Photoshop, we've forgotten photos were ever factual records. But it brings you face to face with 43 of Arbus' intense images of carnies, nudists and transvestites. Even though some of her photos are more than four decades old, their revelation of the subjects' secrets is still shattering. Through May 15, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, 480-994-ARTS (2787). -- L.P.

"In Monet's Light: Theodore Robinson at Giverny": Impressionist paintings have been reproduced on so many coffee mugs and note cards they've become cliché. That's why it's nothing short of miraculous that "In Monet's Light" is able to remind us that these sun-dappled landscapes were revolutionary. The exhibition shows how the work of Theodore Robinson, an American painter, was transformed after he moved to France and befriended Claude Monet. Robinson goes from dutifully reproducing the French countryside to exuberantly showing how it makes him feel. Five Monet masterpieces tucked into the show for context will leave you flabbergasted at the power of paint. Through May 8. Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222. -- L.P.

Dale Chihuly: Before Dale Chihuly became the godfather of art glass, he worked as a commercial fisherman to earn money for grad school. He brings this memory of the world beneath the waves to the glass works on exhibit at Phoenix's premier contemporary art gallery. Eight undulating pieces that look like they were plucked from a brilliantly colored coral reef seem to be lighted from within; the Confetti Seaform Set, a shell-shaped vessel full of biomorphic red, green and blue glass pieces, creates a gorgeous undersea world on a tabletop. On display indefinitely. Bentley Projects, 215 E. Grant St., Phoenix, 602-340-9200. -- L.P.

"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. "Auto Immune Response" is part of the museum's series "Artspeak: New Voices in Contemporary Art." Through September. Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848. -- 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. Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 N. Macdonald, Mesa, 480-644-2230. -- A.Y.

 
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