By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
"Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?" at Burton Barr Central Library: From start to finish, this inspirational exhibition defies convention. The collection of 182 color and black-and-white photographs depicts sportswomen of all ages, races and walks of life -- from corseted, Victorian-era tennis players, to household names including Martina Navratilova and Mary Lou Retton, to unknowns like the gangly, prepubescent girl with Coke-bottle glasses skateboarding down the driveway in Meri Simon's Tomboy. Check out Lynn Johnson's stirring image of Aimee Mullins, the first double-amputee to compete, and break records, in NCAA Division I track. If that doesn't motivate you to put down the bonbons and run some serious laps, nothing will. Admission is free. Through May 15. 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-262-4636, http://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org. -- W.H.
James Angel at Modified Arts: Artist James Angel is living proof that you can go home again. Faded, dusty road signs against a tea-stained neutral background evoke memories of family vacations in his Cosmopolitan. But it's the Star Wars images that ultimately bring us into Angel's childhood. Storm Troopers aim at neighboring paintings, and a shaded, modeled C3PO dominates a landscape reminiscent of grandma's Amish quilt. Admission is free. Through Friday, April 21. 407 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, 602-462-5516, www.modified.org. -- W.H.
"Air-Conditioned" at Shemer Art Center: If you've had your fill of mountain landscapes and embroidered cactuses, be forewarned -- Shemer doesn't offer much in the way of new tricks for America's fifth-largest city. There are some exceptions, like Paho Mann's Re-Inhabited Circle K series, images of former cookie-cutter convenience stores reincarnated as a Mexican grocery, a taco stand and a camera shop. Look for digs at our growing commercialism, from Steve Ferguson's photograph of hundred-year-old saguaros dwarfed by power lines to Daniel Friedman's Encroachment, a rebar tower supported by brick and rock that visually threatens to pluck Nancy Green's Superstition Poppies. Yes, it's scenic. Yes, it's dry. But next time, tell us something we don't know about Phoenix. Admission is free. Through May 4. 5005 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-262-4727, www.phoenix.gov/PARKS/shemer.html. -- W.H.
"Father and Son Exhibition" at Figarelli Fine Art: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree when it comes to sculptor Allan Houser Haozous and his son, Phillip. Father's influence can be seen in the familial depictions dominating Phillip's work -- brothers embracing, mothers clinging to infants. But the younger Haozous brings a modern, cubist influence to his work; the linear shapes contrast sharply with the fluid curves of his father's bronze sculpture Like a Dream, featured at the opening of the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian. Admission is free. Through May 30. 7610 E. McDonald Dr., Scottsdale, 480-609-7077, www.figarellifineart.com. -- W.H.
Carol Cassidy and the Laos Weavers at Mesa Arts Center: An expert for the United Nations weaving program, American Carol Cassidy blends the ancient tradition of weft ikat weaving with modern design innovations. The exhibition includes Cassidy's jewel-toned wall hangings as well as historical examples of headgear and clothing worn by Laotian women. Bands of vibrant pink elephants dance around the edge of one Lowland Lao sin (skirt) on display, while others have hidden Buddhist motifs representing karma and rebirth. Check out the centerpiece, a wooden loom used by the factory workers at Cassidy's Lao Textiles, and maybe next time someone waltzes into the room wearing a pashmina shawl, you'll appreciate the sweat and tears that went into its construction. Admission is $3.50. Through May 28. 1 E. Main St., Mesa, 480-644-6501, www.mesaartscenter.com. -- W.H.
"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. 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, but "Big City" is still worth checking out. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, free to all on Thursdays. Through May 7. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222, www.phxart.org. -- L.P.