Hibert's influences — not to mention other ideas he's got in the works — are too numerous to list here in full, but one of his more ambitious current projects bears mentioning. Raised in Seattle and Phoenix, Hibert now calls the Valley home. He's settled just off Roosevelt Street in the former Kitchenette photography collective. A narrow garage is packed with paintings, Miigiis, and prototypes for more figures, while another space has just enough room for a bed, couch, desk and Hibert's extensive toy collection, awash in hot pinks, blues, yellows, and black.

So you'd think that when it came time to rent gallery space — another dream — Hibert would have landed on Roosevelt Row. He tried that. Turned out, it was actually easier to rent space on the formerly tony, but now nearly empty, Marshall Way in Scottsdale, still home to, among others, Lisa Sette and Bentley galleries. A longtime gallery owner persuaded a landlord to lower rent for some youngsters, in an attempt to increase traffic for everyone.

That's how Hibert found himself sipping a martini in a loud little bar in Old Town during a recent Thursday art walk. Dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a Modelo T-shirt, armed with a pack of Camels, he seems out of place among the tanned Scottsdale crowd. But he doesn't care, as long as people stop by Soyal Gallery. Hibert runs Soyal with Emmett Potter III, a guy he met at the mold supply company. Hibert's Miigiis are prominently displayed in the window, and several of the pieces in the gallery's first show (super-graphic paintings by Grant Wiggins) actually sold, though the two-month-old gallery's far from becoming a Marshall Way mainstay.

Tricia Moore
Jamie Peachey
Tricia Moore
Marcelino Quiñonez
Jamie Peachey
Marcelino Quiñonez
Kara Roschi
Jamie Peachey
Kara Roschi
Peter Bugg
Jamie Peachey
Peter Bugg
A Peter Bugg piece
courtesy of Peter Bugg
A Peter Bugg piece
Miigiis
Jamie Peachey
Miigiis
Goo Goo Ghandi, Spencer Hibert's latest figure
courtesy of Spencer Hibert
Goo Goo Ghandi, Spencer Hibert's latest figure
Hibert
Jamie Peachey
Hibert
A Jen Urso piece
courtesy of Jen Urso
A Jen Urso piece
Jen Urso
Jamie Peachey
Jen Urso

After a cocktail, Hibert admits he's over the Miigii, whose "powers" include the ability to squash humans' bad luck. "It's done too well," he says. "I'm sick of it."

He's onto another character, a cool, bumpy-looking guy named Goo Goo Ghandi, designed to meditate away negative energy. Good luck with that. — Amy Silverman


Jen Urso
www.jenniferursoart.com
Jen Urso never doubted her path in life. Her childhood afternoons were spent sketching portraits of neighbors, and by the time she reached sixth grade, she had dreams of illustrating for Disney. Urso moved past the cartoon stage and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in painting and sculpture. Then, she relocated to Arizona, where her family had vacationed years earlier. "I thought [Phoenix] was really beautiful," she says. "I was fascinated with it, and I needed to get out of Pennsylvania because it's cold and damp."

The move was a turning point for Urso's fine-art career. Her work was chosen for exhibits at local venues including The Icehouse, eye lounge, and, most recently, Artlink's A.E. England Gallery in downtown Phoenix. You may remember the installation she created at Modified Arts in 2006, which enveloped the brick building in a spider web-like cocoon that passersby mistook for a playful Halloween decoration.

For Urso's recent exhibit "White Space," she walked the distance between the two Pennsylvania towns where she grew up. It was a courageous move for Urso, who described her childhood home as abusive. The feelings she experienced were chronicled in a series of pen-and-ink drawings done each night and a documentary currently in progress. It's Urso's willingness to take such risky journeys that have made her a fixture in the local arts community.

Urso has watched that arts community blossom in the decade she's been here. Artists are moving away from a singular focus on workmanship to a more conceptually driven aesthetic. Art schools are teaching students to question their motivations and accept failure as a learning experience. If there's one lesson Urso would like to impart on the next generation of artists, it's that they need to take more risks. She has come to appreciate the pieces she wasn't happy with because "they're a step towards something. You have to fail in order to figure out what works."

Currently, Urso is working on a project for the Glendale Centennial that involves historical maps of the city layered on top of each other so that Urso can pinpoint spaces that have remained empty throughout the years. "It's those unimportant spots where you live most of your life, walking from one place to another," she says. The project highlights the theme that flows through all of her work: It's the journey that counts, not the destination.

For a 2008 performance piece at The Icehouse, Urso scratched designs on a 350-pound rock, slowly chiseled it apart, and scattered the pieces around Phoenix. Rumor has it that locals were picking up pieces of rock as souvenirs weeks after the Icehouse performance. For Urso, the chiseling of the rock was more important than the finished piece. "The moments in between big events are really frustrating, and when you're on a path to get to a certain goal it seems tedious," she says. "But it's those little steps that build you up towards the bigger moments in your life." — Wynter Holden

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3 comments
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Terra
Terra

Ewww, the last comment did not like my punctuation. I am sorry if it is difficult to read. But I hope it still makes the point and can be taken in a constructive manner. Thank you!

Terra
Terra

I found the article about "Robert Kilman and Safwat Saleem" to be incredibly insulting. As an active member of the local film community, I had never heard of these two before the Big Brain nominations. I came to NewTimes expecting to learn something more about them, and their up-and-coming talents.

Instead, I read nothing but insults towards our city. I have traveled across the country, but in Phoenix found a WONDERFULLY talented and visionary community. So I have to ask, “Kilman, are you kidding me?” Have you been to a recent A3F screening? (If not, many of the films can be found online now.) Have you ever watched the Media Guys? SyntheticHuman Pictures? N'Raged? Junk Draw? They all make incredibly good films, not to mention the films by your fellow nominee from Squishy Studios. And if comedy isn’t your style? You'll find no lack of drama, horror, action or suspense here. "Leashed" is the name of one short I really enjoyed, but I don't recall who made it.

If you want to “improve the standard of creativity in… local filmmaking”, let me give you some sincere advice:

First, find out what that standard already is. Sure, there's dozens of amateur films for each one that is note-worthy. But every filmmaker has to start somewhere, and I believe in encouraging the students & beginners. I don’t use them to set the standard when organizing a competition, however.

Second, leave your over-inflated ego in LA, and start networking here. We are a young, but rapidly growing city. It has been said that Phoenix will be the "Next Hollywood" and for good reason. Let’s work together and make that happen (without the pollution and corporate crap please. Indie ftw!)

All filming aside, we have a vast and wide-spread variety of artistic attractions. Have you visited The Lost Leaf? Been to many First Friday events? I can't list everything going on in this city. It's literally an everyday, ongoing, kaleidoscope of creativity.

Congrats on your nomination! But as you continue improving your art and gaining recognition, please remember - before YOU question "whether or not Phoenix is attractive to creative types." You should realize we are already here.

Nicholas DiBiase
Nicholas DiBiase

With all due respect to Atherton and Keener, Dudlik takes this one by a mile. That little whippersnapper has reanimated th' mummy of Phoenix functional and aesthetic design culture. What one year ago seemed like a battlefield populated by a scattering of wounded ronin now feels like an unstoppable polycerebral juggernaut of radness. Kind of like "Oogy Boogy" from "Nightmare Before Christmas."

 
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