Art Scene

Current shows, exhibitions, and installations

 "Trench Coat" at Phoenix Art Museum: You thought the belt on your beloved trench coat was there to accentuate your hourglass figure. Turns out it's a place to hang hand grenades and pistols. That's just one of the tidbits you'll learn at this exhibition tracing the coat from its origin as World War I military attire to its current incarnation on the catwalks of New York and Paris. It's fun seeing trench coats reimagined by Pucci, Gaultier and Lagerfeld, but the exhibition fails to show exactly when and how the trench coat left the army surplus store and became a wardrobe staple for civilians. Through June 19. Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222. -- L.P.

"BAM! Sequential Art & Comics in the Post-Post Modern Era" at the Trunk Space: Holy pop culture, it's an entire show of comic book art! The originals from dozens of national and local indie comics are tacked to the walls of this funky art space. Rob Osborne, the local creator of last year's award-winning graphic novel 1000 Steps to World Domination, is in the show, as is former Marvel comics master Steve Rude, who lives in Peoria and whose painting of Wonder Woman leaping out of an explosion will make you remember why you fell in love with superheroes in the first place. Through Wednesday, June 15. The Trunk Space, 1506 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 602-256-6006. -- L.P.

Deborah Butterfield at Mesa Arts Center: Montana artist Deborah Butterfield makes subversive horse statues out of the sort of junk one might find on a vacant lot. Her stark assemblages turn the classic symbol of the American West into a lovely, sad echo of the region's ruin at the hands of development. Butterfield's use of primitive-feeling materials to make modern forms connects her animals not to the cowboy myth but to an inaccessible eternity. Look at them, and you'll feel like a speck in time. Through June 19. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St., Mesa, 480-644-6500. -- L.P.

Rosa, found steel, by Deborah Butterfield, 2005
Rosa, found steel, by Deborah Butterfield, 2005

"HOME: Native People in the Southwest" at the Heard Museum: The Heard ends a yearlong celebration of its 75th anniversary by opening a huge new gallery that houses a larger and improved exhibition of Southwestern Native American art. The new exhibition organizes 2,000 objects by tribe instead of type, includes maps of each tribe's ancestral and modern lands, information about their history, and excerpts of interviews with living members of the tribe. The result is that "HOME" feels less like a showcase of treasures amassed on the cheap by rich white people and more like an explanation of the still-living cultures that produced them. Through 2020. Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848. -- L.P.

Dale Chihuly at Bentley Projects: 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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