Art Scene

Current shows, exhibits and installations

"Virgil Ortiz: La Renaissance Indigène": Native American tradition meets downtown hip as Virgil Ortiz puts designs inspired by the pottery of his native Cochiti Pueblo on contemporary objects. Black and white lines, swirls and geometric shapes that owe much to op-art show up on purses, corsets and skirts; in a jerky video; on an S&M-themed fiberglass horse; and on freaky-deaky storyteller figures. The visual mash-up works best on his clothing designs, which are pure Cochiti-meets-club brilliance. Ortiz's storytellers, though, are slick and empty with no stories to tell. Through June 2. Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848. -- L.P.

"Remembering to Forget: Joe Willie Smith": Archaeology takes center stage in Joe Willie Smith's "Urban Field" series, mixed-media creations of junk he finds in vacant lots around metro Phoenix. In Main Street/Hobson in Mesa, Northeast Corner, Smith eloquently captures the collision of cultures in a 21st-century edge city by hanging a Mexican lotto ticket, a crushed malt liquor can, a golf club, a page from a Mormon newspaper and a Spanish-language Bible from a knot of wire. His smartly edited assemblages work as portraits of the city, rendered in its trash. Through May 28. eye lounge, 419 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, 602-430-1490. -- L.P.

"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 Sunday, May 15. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, 480-994-ARTS (2787). -- L.P.

Two Girls, Diane Arbus
Two Girls, Diane Arbus

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.

 
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