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
Jessica Joslin and Nissa Kubly at Lisa Sette Gallery: The Dadaists may have pioneered found-object assemblage, but artist Jessica Joslin's zoomorphic sculptures constructed from animal bones and metal hardware venture beyond their grasp of the craft. Joslin is particularly adept at capturing the natural kinesthetics of mammals. Though merely a skeletal frame, her Carina, a feline depicted grooming her paw via a leather tongue, begs to be stroked like her flesh-and-blood cousins. The immense planning and patience necessary to complete just one of her creatures is overwhelming; it takes more than 30 metal pipes, screws and joints just to make a single bird claw. Kubly's brass sculptures are equally complex. Her antiqued pinhole cameras possess a weighty, weathered quality reminiscent of early mariners' equipment. The nautical influence is most apparent in View From Amalfi, Italy, an etched spyglass magnifying the reverse negative of a picturesque inlet town. Admission is free. Through Dec. 30. 4142 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale, 480-990-7342, www.lisasettegallery.com.
"Artists of the Black Community" at West Valley Art Museum: Arizona's African-American community offers a collection of paintings and sculptures as colorful as its members, eschewing muted Southwest pastels in favor of unconventional shades like amethyst and chartreuse. Every piece radiates with uninhibited energy, from Belinda Wilson's stained-glass woman to Bob Martin's glorious Blue Angel, a semi-realistic portrait of a muscled youth bearing white wings that seemingly vibrate against the indigo background. Don't miss Rhonda "Shakur" Carter's She Flutters, a decidedly feminine departure from her monochromatic wood vignettes. A three-dimensional butterfly with beaded red wings hovers near an animated sun rising in a swirling sea of curves and flowers. It's a beautiful piece, and a powerful example of how successful the addition of bold colors can be. Admission is $7, $2 for students. Through Nov. 26. 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts, Surprise, 623-972-0635, www.wvam.org.
"PIVOT: The Conjunction of Directional Impulses" at Mesa Contemporary Arts: If you have a weak stomach or sensitive ears, steer clear of James A. Cook's cacophonous grouping of sound and video installations. In Ascension/Descension, a pair of cast horse legs sits atop an empty font, the box below playing graphic slaughterhouse video of a horse carcass being flayed. It's downright disturbing. The centerpiece is Tap Dance of Shiva, a trio of video clips that depict dancing feet, people waiting, and a Hindi funeral ritual. Unfortunately, the visual appeal of the piece is shattered by the high-pitched clanking of one of the accompanying sound bites. Taken individually, Cook's works are artfully crafted and thematically relevant. Placed in a single room together, the viewer is forced to either leave or break out the Excedrin. Gallery admission is $3.50; children 7 and under get in free. Through Nov. 26. 1 E. Main St., Mesa, 480-644-6500, www.mesaarts.com.
"Demonic Divine in Himalayan Art" at Phoenix Art Museum: It's not surprising that viewers of this historical exhibition would mistake Buddhist gods for evil monsters, considering the amount of bloodshed going on in these ancient paintings and sculptures. Notice the parallel of Lords of the Charnel Ground to modern Día de los Muertos art. The 15th-century cloth painting features a skeleton couple dancing beneath a canopy of bones, skulls and draped intestines. But the most telling piece is Horse-Headed One, or Haya Griva, an image of the wrathful Buddha crushing a sinner beneath his many feet. It's a shocking change from the fat, jolly creature seen in curio shops and ethnic restaurants, but it illustrates the Buddhist belief of achieving compassionate ends through fierce means. Admission is $9 for adults; $7 for students and seniors; free to all on Tuesday evenings. Through Dec. 17. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222, www.phoenixartmuseum.org.
"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. 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.