By Benjamin Leatherman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Katrina Montgomery
By Robrt L. Pela
By Kathleen Vanesian
By New Times
By Ray Stern
By Eric Tsetsi
"A Sense of Place" at Herberger Theater Center: The Herberger's collection of interior and exterior landscapes is about one thing: location, location, location. Much like the real estate market, it's a mixed bag. Painter Christine Kierstead transcends ordinary pastel landscapes by illuminating the highlights cast on desert rocks at dusk. In contrast, the screaming reds and violets of Judy Feldman's Cleo in the Yellow Room are unsettling. Visible brush strokes and a raw, post-modern style lend a cartoonish quality to the piece. Don't miss Rhonda Shakur Carter's rustic wood-and-acrylic wall hanging Sweet Peas. A weathered old woman shelling peas on her front porch bears the wrinkles of wisdom and a warm smile that beckons viewers to come on in and sit a spell. It's a welcome sight for Southern transplants. Admission is free. Through Oct. 1. 222 E. Monroe St., Phoenix, 602-254-7399, http://www.herbergertheater.org.
"The Self and the Shadow" at the Trunk Space: The joys of youth are lost as adults embrace the realities of cubicle life and credit cards, but artists Michele Bledsoe and Camilla Taylor manage to recapture the magic of childhood. Bledsoe's paintings are surreal and soft; not a brush stroke in sight. Recurring themes of fuzzy animals and masks evoke memories of fantasy playtimes. In Moon Liquor, feminine icons of flower, moon and female torso float above an oozing liquid staircase combining elements of Dali and Escher. But the standouts are Taylor's vegan-friendly recycled dolls and the accompanying explanations. Look for her first sculptural doll, a found teddy bear with dual ceramic mouths, and its anatomically correct counterpart, Easily Startled, a polka-dotted girl bear made from "boxers no one would take." Admission is free. Through Sept. 12. 1506 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 602-256-6006, http://www.thetrunkspace.com.
"David Pimentel: Legacy of an Artist and Educator" at Mesa Arts Center: The death of an artist usually brings instant celebrity and positive attention. In former ASU professor David Pimentel's case, the accolades are warranted. Look for his renowned series of copper vessels, each unique in form and crafted from a single sheet of copper, and Torchiere Lamp, a functional metal sculpture with thin sheets of glittering mica in lieu of glass. The exhibition also features work from the professor's greatest legacy the students he inspired, including MFA graduate John Tzelepis, whose magnetic steel tower follows the clean lines and aesthetic ideals of Pimentel's wall art. Admission is $3.50, free on Thursdays and second Sundays. Through Oct. 15. 1 E. Main St., Mesa, 480-644-6500, www.mesaartscenter.com.
"Annual Summer Juried Exhibition" at ASU Harry Wood Gallery: This year's crop of MFA hopefuls shows a surprising awareness of domestic issues, including water conservation, racial profiling, and changing family values. Look for tongue-in-cheek political lampoons, like Exhibitions Class Award winner Corie J. Cole's ceramic caricatures of cowboy Bush and his Elmer Fudd sidekick. The well-modeled figures grin over the carcass of a white elephant, gold blood dripping from two bullet holes in its head. In R. Eric McMaster's Lawn Ornament, a molded plastic businessman perches in Astroturf. He wears a tight suit and tie, and flashes the frozen grin of a good corporate drone. These young artists can't predict the future, but they certainly seem to know what awaits them in the real world. Admission is free. Through Sept. 8. ASU Art Building, Forest and Tyler malls, Tempe, 480-965-3468, http://art.asu.edu/gallery/hwood.
"Holy Land: Diaspora and the Desert" at the Heard Museum: Something is definitely missing here. Only one Israeli artist is represented, and the closest thing to Jewish art is a photographic series exploring the Dead Sea. Still, this exhibition is worth checking out, even if just to ponder the meaning of Einar and Jamex de la Torre's Maybe, a Mayan head sputtering abstract poetry attached to a weathered camper, which even the museum's docents can't figure out. The most telling piece is the multimedia installation Treehouse Kit, in which artist Guy Ben-Ner is shown deconstructing and reassembling an abstract wooden tree to form basic necessities a bed, table, chair and umbrella. It proves that even when there's nothing to work with, we'll find a way to connect the dots. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for students. Through Dec. 31. 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848, www.heard.org.