By New Times
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Katrina Montgomery
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Monica Alonzo
By Benjamin Leatherman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Katrina Montgomery
"A Century of Retablos" at the Phoenix Art Museum: If you happen to be a man, a little touch of gray may very well get you further in this world than plastic surgery. The physical evidence of age, survival, and experience demands respect from peers. The same rule can easily apply to this collection, with works ranging from the mid-18th century to the late 19th century. These paintings of Christian imagery certainly look their age. The muted colors that were surely bright at one time have aged to a translucent state that reveals the grain of the wood underneath. Some pieces have warped so dramatically that their panels have split. But much like a man's salt-and-pepper mustache, the age is what makes them charming and beautiful. This large collection portrays saints, the holy family, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the big cheese Himself in a simplistic, two-dimensional style — much like Byzantine but without the fancy gold leaf. Even if the Christian god isn't your thing, the show is definitely worth a visit because the paintings surely stand alone as surviving historic artworks. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $4 for children, free to all on Tuesday evenings. Through February 3. 1625 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix. Call 602-257-1222 or visit www.phxart.org.
Linda Parker and Brenton Hamilton at Tilt Gallery: Especially here in the land of abundant light, elementary school art teachers tend to rely heavily on the cyanotype. That's the blue paper that you'd throw some objects on, let cook in the sun and presto! You get a little picture of white leaves on a cyan background, destined for the refrigerator door. But artist Brenton Hamilton demonstrates that cyanotypes aren't just child's play. Hamilton combines anatomical drawings of human body parts, botanical sketches and astrological symbols to create ghostly, nighttime visions. The fine white lines against the midnight blue are absolutely stunning. These are portraits of the human condition with symbols of mortal flesh, fruitful bounty and superstition. Accompanying artist Linda Parker steers clear of the cyanotype and opts for gouache — a chalky watercolor that creates heavy layers of rich color. Her art is surely enjoyable, but it's a side note against Hamilton's dramatic pieces. Parker's images are colorful, lively and also dreamlike. One untitled work shows a daytime scene in a fantastic forest filled with fluttering insects. The silhouette of a small child is present — seemingly lost in a make-believe fantasy. Admission is free. Open Saturdays, 1-5 p.m., with closing reception Friday, December 21, 6-10 p.m. 919 West Fillmore Street, Phoenix. 602-716-5667. www.tiltgallery.com.
Paintings by Scooter LaForge at Antoine Proulx Design Studio: As far as turnoffs go, self-absorbed pretension is right up there with stained teeth and halitosis. And sadly, our art scene is rampant with artists who take themselves too seriously. But Scooter LaForge is the equivalent of tooth bleach and a bottle of mouthwash, as evidenced by his zany and hilarious paintings. His humorously morbid approach to subject matter, from popular Hollywood icons to everyday urban scenes, reflects the ease with which he approaches art. His intentionally immature and splotchy painting style works because the silly visual quality is part of the joke. But this isn't a simple gag; the subject matter — which is often depressing in its own right — is expertly turned into fodder for a hearty, inappropriate laugh. Admission is free and art will be rotated as sold at 3320 N. 44th St. in Phoenix. Call 602-952-1580 or visit www.antoineproulx.com.