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
"New Work By Jason Grubb, Lara Kupcikevicius and Ami Minnick" at Bragg's Pie Factory: It's no mystery where Ami Minnick gets her inspiration. She includes the source right in the piece, by combining a series of framed vinyl album covers and adding a related drawing. One set shows a number of albums with campy illustrations of women and a cartoon-like picture of a girl slumbering under the covers as a part of the convoy. It's a way to understand the inception of the drawings, and without the accompanying covers, the works would be dull. Unfortunately, Jason Grubb's photographs don't have that saving factor. The large prints show blurred snowy landscapes — as though he stuck his camera out the car window and snapped. They take your mind back to a boring road trip, but not much further. Lara Kupcikevicius outshines the other artists with her encaustic images. Most show pastel stripes, softened by the bumpy wax-surface texture. Her real success is a series of images of lopsided countryside houses and structures — all with cornflower blue rooftops. They look like childhood drawings of an isolated homestead and radiate irresistible charm. Admission is free. Through February 29. Open Friday, February 15 or by appointment. Call 602-307-4019 or visit larakupcikevicius.blogspot.com.
"Jim Waid Recent Paintings" at Riva Yares Gallery: It's easy to make the argument that we're overstimulated. With TV, movies, and Wii, paintings have to go the extra mile to stand out. Jim Waid's nature-inspired paintings, while static, offer an escape into a whimsical world of fantastic landscapes and creatures that held my interest. The Tucson artist has been showing nationally since the 1970s. His recent pieces are glimpses into a surrealistic jungle filled with exploding flowers, chattering wildlife, and fluttering insects. Most look like midnight scenes and are dominated by a heavy black top coat. Strategic scrapes of the paint reveal the bright colors of the natural world beyond — it almost appears as if you're caught in a jungle at night with only a flickering flashlight. Other works, such as Box Canyon, are straightforward landscape scenes. The impressionistic style makes for subdued beauty, but it lacks the "wow" factor needed to hold a viewer's interest. Through February 11. Admission is free. 3625 Bishop Lane in Scottsdale. Call 480-947-4251 or visit www.rivayaresgallery.com.
Jessica Calderwood's "Sensual Surfaces" at Mesa Contemporary Arts: If you've ever stumbled across another person's diary, you've been faced with an insatiable temptation to dive in and get an eyeful of their secrets. Even if you managed to walk away (if so, bravo to you), it's easy to understand that longing to take a peek at privacy. An artist's sketchbook is often just as revealing as any diary, and artist Jessica Calderwood has bared her visual soul for all to see. She uses the drawings from her sketchbook in a series of enamel works (glass on metal) that reveal her concentrations on sensuality, consumption, and femininity. One wall in the gallery is covered with egg-sized convex plaques, each decorated with a tiny drawing. There's a mouth biting a lower lip, an eyelash curler, a woman blowing a gum bubble, a corset, and a uterus. The larger platters show drawings of women, their seductively open mouths belching flowers and bouquets that weave into the air. Another shows a woman's face, marked up like a body on Nip/Tuck. The show is provocative in both its imagery and the revealing nature of Calderwood's sketches — a conglomeration of ideas in their infancy that, when displayed all at once, show a mature conception of feminine sensuality. Admission $3.50 for adults, free for children ages 7 and under. Through April 6. 1 E. Main St. in Mesa. Call 480-644-6501 or visit http://mesaartscenter.com.
"On the Ball" at Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 4, Level 3 Gallery: With millions of travelers passing through Sky Harbor every year, the art displays must approach crowd-pleasing topics. And what's more crowd-pleasing than American sports? There are two artists that really outshine the rest. Keith Stanton has a pretty rad photography trick in which he sets up a scene in miniature and shoots with a macro lens to create the illusion of true-to-life scale. The photos are convincing at first glance, but because of their bright colors and miniature-model quality, they have a surrealistic edge. The other artist worth your time is Denise Currier, who basically paints with fabric. It's safe to assume that this woman has made some kickass quilts in her time, as evidenced by the stellar construction of pieced fabrics and with gorgeous decorative stitching. She creates beautiful plush scenes of golf courses. Jeff Falk's small gold statue of a child with a baseball mitt and cap was too over the top. It's an obvious attempt to update the cherub statues seen in cathedrals but the only thing Falk's piece looks like is a creepy doll, spray-painted by a sadistic kid. Admission is free. The show runs through March 30 at 3400 E. Sky Harbor Blvd. Call 602-273-2105 or visit phoenix.gov/skyharborairport.