By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
In November 2011, Greyeyes was arrested on charges of criminal damage after painting the word "PEAKS" in mud on buildings in Flagstaff. His work could have easily been washed away with a hose — no damage was done to the building, he says — but the statement against snow-making at Arizona Snowbowl had to be made, he says.
A month later, Greyeyes was asked to be a part of "Rezolution," an exhibition of contemporary Native art at The Hive gallery, organized by artist Thomas "Breeze" Marcus. The show aimed to expose the community to work outside the context of "institutionalized" Native American art.
Greyeyes says "Rezolution" was an opportunity to make a statement. Across the gallery, he hung two large paintings that faced each other in a standoff. One showed a punk-rock Native girl (the kind he always had crushes on as a student, he says) standing with an empty bow. The other was a police officer riddled with arrows; next to him was a small screenprint of Sheriff Joe Arpaio suffering the same fate.
"There's a challenge in finding where my work really fits," he says with a slow shrug. "And there are plenty of people in both of my communities who are unwilling to accept what I have to say . . . But I have no choice but to get it out there." — Claire Lawton
As she herself puts it, Lindz Lew is no tortured artist.
"I don't thrive on pain and turmoil," she wrote last fall on her blog, lindzlewsculpture.wordpress.com. "I can't make art while my head is clouded with darkness, like most artists. Life has to be all bunny rabbits and rainbows for me to be productive."
Lucky for us, Lew says she's generally a pretty happy person. She grew up "in the middle of nowhere" (a.k.a. Cave Creek) and found out who she was midway through high school, at New School for the Arts, then a brand-new charter arts school in Scottsdale. After graduation, Lew visited Prague and wound up staying three years — teaching preschool art and working as an interior designer. She loved it but realized she'd need a college degree to do much of anything, so she found herself back in Arizona. In May, she graduated from ASU with a degree in sculpture, her preferred medium.
She gets teary talking about what a difference downtown gallery/music venue Modified Arts made for her in high school, and grateful when describing the mentorship of Modified founder Kimber Lanning. Last year, Lew curated the show "In Your Head and Under the Bed" with Lanning and Kim Larkin, and continues to be involved at Modified, though she now has a full-time job as an executive assistant at Bentley Gallery in Scottsdale.
She makes time for her own work in a small bedroom in the back of her Tempe house that serves as a studio. Though it looks as if Wes Anderson decorated the place, her real inspiration comes from the work of Jim Henson and George Lucas. Labyrinth and '80s sci-fi fantasy, she says, are "still my heart of hearts."
When Henson died in 1990, she spent a week in bed. "My mother was very consoling," Lew says.
These days, she's finishing a series of heads, which include a deer with glowing green eyes and a pig that is altogether too lifelike. She says it's important to stay happy to keep her creepy work from becoming macabre. Indeed, looking around the studio at an owl's nest filled with human-head eggs and a small, scrappy bunny in a wheelchair, it's easy to see the fine line.
But Lew never crosses it. Her work is whimsical and thought-provoking and, yes, happy. It'll be interesting to see how she handles the tightrope walk in an upcoming project, a series based on a National Geographic article about giant floods in Mississippi, during which farmers built sand walls around their homes. Lew is obsessed with the images. "I kinda want to make some little floating houses," she says.
And speaking of home: In the abstract, Lew says she ultimately wants to make hers in either a big city or near the woods. But, she adds, "for the time being, I'm really happy here."
Lucky us. — Amy Silverman
Dulce Juarez is looking around Fair Trade Coffee in downtown Phoenix and pointing out things she could use in an impromptu performance.
"See that chair, this plant, your jacket, that lamp, that man's tie," she says. "I could use all of those things . . . It's a matter of making something out of nothing."
The 25-year-old performer, activist, and teacher says the word for this style is rasquache, a Spanish term embraced by the Chicano art movement and used to describe an artwork or artist who accepts and deals with his or her material limitations.
Juarez is no stranger to the stage. She got her start in Phoenix playwright James Garcia's Dream Act and since has acted in his Tears of Lives, and Teatro Bravo!'s Lloronas. On stage, she has costumes, props, and scripts at her disposal. But the street is where she says she gets the most inspiration.