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
"Life in a Cold Place: Arctic Art from the Albrecht Collection" at the Heard Museum:The humble aesthetic of Grandma Moses the self-taught early-20th-century folk artist is beloved because it serves as a simple reminder of quaint, rural life in America, rich with homely traditions and collective practices of survival. This show offers a similar glimpse into the lives of the Inuit people in the Arctic regions of Siberia, coastal Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Kayaker’s Reflection by Kananginak Pootoogook is a beautiful stone-cut print a straightforward design with stunning use of bold colors. The two-dimensional masses of printed ink tell a quick visual story of everyday life among the Inuit: A man paddling his kayak notes the practices of transportation along Arctic coastlines and waterways. Like a psychological inkblot test, the form offers various interpretations. If viewed vertically, the shapes reveal the silhouette of an Arctic hunter, exposing a force of duality within the image. The show ranges from those compelling works to less-impressive renderings limited to immature and childlike skill levels. Overall, the exhibition is worth a visit and will fill a hankering for the mystery and intrigue that pervades outsider art. Admission is $10; seniors $9; $5 for students with valid ID; children 6 to 12, $3; under 5 free. Through July 31. 2301 N. Central Ave. Call 602-252-8848 or visit www.heard.org. L.M.
"Connecting Cultures: Art from the Hispanic Research Center collection, Arizona State University" at Phoenix Airport Museum: The title of this show is a turnoff. True, some of it is disappointing. But the sum is not a complete waste. Take Marion C. Martinez’s Madre Querida (Beloved Mother), a piece that juxtaposes the Catholic affection toward symbols of religious maternity with the worship and reliance practiced with modern-day electronics. Martinez uses circuit boards, computer discs and cable wire to create the familiar image of the Virgen de Guadalupe. The maternal icon historically has provided a source of wisdom, purity and safety. Using electronic bits to render the Mexican Catholic mother figure exposes a contemporary quandary: Modern humans depend on computers and other electronic gadgets for guidance as much as society once relied on religion. The other works on display were created by different Hispanic artists, each commenting on their cultural background through painting, sculpture and graphic prints. It may not be a show worthy of a deliberate detour, but it offers enough enrichment to warrant a pit stop during your next airport pickup. Works are displayed in four cases at Terminal 4, level 3 west, at 3400 East Sky Harbor Boulevard. Call 602-273-2105 or visit http://phoenix.gov/skyharborairport. L.M.
"Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art" at the Phoenix Art Museum:Sometimes, it’s the fame and hype surrounding a piece of art that excite us more than does the piece itself. So even if you’ve never been nuts about 17th-century dusky interiors or “girl doing meaningless task” paintings, seeing a famous Rembrandt like Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul (1661) is a thrill. Bonus: There is much more to this show than mere celebrity status. The exhibition, a result of a five-year negotiation between PAM and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass, and silver showpieces. Through May 6, 1625 N. Central Ave., McDowell Road & Central Avenue. Admission is $18 for adults, $8 for children. Through May 6. Call 602-257-1222 or visit www.phxart.org. L.M.
"Reflections From Within: Charlie Emmert" at West Valley Art Museum: If Emmert’s oil portraits of historical figures accurately reflect their personalities, then these guys were one miserable lot. In O’Keeffe Study, a thin veil of gray watercolor drips like tears over the artist’s heavily wrinkled and forlorn face. It seems almost tragic considering the colorful femininity of O’Keeffe’s floral studies. Einstein’s trademark frizzy white hair and walrus mustache can’t counteract the despair of eyes painted to mimic black holes. Though likely a nod to his Theory of Relativity, it’s disturbing to view. Emmert’s shadowy style is most successful in Indian with War Bonnet, an impressionistic view of a proud warrior in side profile. Textured paper and earthy shades of yellow, brown and ochre lend a raw, natural quality that visually describes the bond between Native Americans and their land. Admission is $7 adults; $2 students; children 5 and under free. Through May 6. 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts, Surprise, 623-972-0635, www.wvam.org. W.H.
"Draw Me a Picture" at the Heard Museum: Steven Yazzie the It Boy of the local art scene has a show at a major museum. Too bad it’s not a show of the work we’ve grown accustomed to from him, amazing paintings that showcase his true talent. Yazzie took a risk with “Draw Me a Picture,” so named because he drew pictures while driving a cart. The result? Um, don’t drive and draw. Admission is $10; seniors $9; $5 for students with valid ID; children 6 to 12, $3; under 5 free. Through September 2. 2301 N. Central Ave. Call 602-252-8848 or visit www.heard.org. L.M.