Art Scene

Current shows, exhibits, and installations

"Lingerie: Secrets of Elegance" at Phoenix Art Museum: Yep, you read that right. Bras, baby doll nighties, and a sunburst display of girdles are just a gallery over from the paintings of dead white guys in powdered wigs. This fascinating fashion exhibition traces lingerie's evolution (or maybe devolution) from corsets to thongs, and shows how technology, cultural ideals of beauty, and economics have shaped what women wear over their privates. Look at the torpedo bra from the early 1950s, with foam falsies in the tips of the cups to simulate erect nipples, and you'll understand exactly why the women's rights movement happened. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students, free to all on Thursdays. Through April 9. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222, www.phxart.org.

Susan Copeland at Burton Barr Central Library: Hey, America, wake up and smell the discrimination. That's the theme of Susan Copeland's exhibition "Refuse," a name that refers to the materials Copeland uses in her mixed-media creations and to treatment she believes African-Americans get in this country. The strongest pieces in the show are a series of plywood panels covered in cast plaster hands painted black and white that depict statistics about the U.S. prison population. A hand-woven remaking of the American flag is heavy-handed and obvious, but after last year's spectacle of black people dying in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, one can never yell about racism loudly enough. Admission is free. Through Monday, Jan. 30. 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-256-3521.

Rudy Turk at Mesa Contemporary Arts: One of the perks of being an artist is that you usually amass a fabulous art collection, compensation for all those years of living in an unheated studio and subsisting on beans and ramen noodles. Valley art pioneer Rudy Turk owns just such an eclectic, amazing collection, and it's on display along with his own expressionistic paintings. The work, by the likes of Whistler, Delacroix and Fritz Scholder, is presented randomly, without dates or explanation, so the show feels more like a visit to Turk's home than a museum exhibition. Admission is $3.50, free on Thursdays and second Sundays of the month. Through Feb. 5. 1 E. Main St., Mesa, 480-644-6500, www.mesaarts.com.

Anthony Caro at Bentley Projects: British sculptor Anthony Caro is famous for the lean, linear metal abstractions he made in the 1960s, so the lumpy, earthbound assemblages of clay and steel in this exhibition are surprising. Caro's newest sculptures depict recognizable domestic objects like tables, chairs, a figure, and (gulp!) fruit. They're dark, huddled, and backward-looking, and maybe that's the point. If this work is any indication, old age will pluck you from the sky and replace your visions of the future with images from the past. Maybe this is why Roger Daltrey sang that he wanted to die before he got old. It's a hell of a fall. Admission is free. Through March 26. 215 E. Grant St., Phoenix, 602-340-9200, www.bentleyprojects.com.

"Big City" at Phoenix Art Museum: There isn't a single image of the PHX among the cityscapes and urban life scenes drawn from PAM's permanent collection. That's odd, seeing as how we're the nation's fifth or sixth largest metropolis. The omission is partly because of the age of the work, the newest of which was made in the late 1970s when Phoenix was still a cow town on steroids. There are lots of classic Industrial Age images of skyscraper-chocked Eastern cities by masters like John Sloane and Reginald Marsh, but no Information Age images of upstart cities like Houston or Phoenix where all is horizontal. The portrait of the city is incomplete because it omits the last quarter-century, but "Big City" is still worth checking out. Admission is $9, $7 for students and seniors. Through May 7. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222, www.phxart.org.

"Hector Ruiz: La Realidad (Reality)" at the Heard Museum: Phoenix artist Hector Ruiz fires a shot between the eyes of American values with woodcarvings, block prints, and mixed-media assemblages that address racism, border issues and capitalism. A King Kong-size blonde crushes a hapless businessman in her manicured hands in Westernization, the papier-m*acirc;ché installation that's the show's centerpiece, and the U.S. suburbs are depicted as a sea of faceless hands reaching for more consumer goods in Escape Diversity. Ruiz's work is as subtle as a baseball bat, but whispered messages go unheard in an age when no one seems to be paying attention. Through March. 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848, heard.org.

 
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