James Turrell's Skyspace in Tempe: As soon as the construction fencing around a mysterious glowing structure on ASU's Tempe campus came down, I drove down (in a lightning storm, no less) to see what all the rumbling was about. The glowing structure was the latest skypsace designed and built by Arizona artist James Turrell, along with Phoenix-based architect Will Bruder, who designed Burton Barr Library, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Nevada Museum of Art (to name a few). Turrell's work relies on light and environment, and his series of Skyspace installations (including Knight Rise at Scotts-dale Museum of Contemporary Art) capture and frame the natural light and create a constantly changing visual experience for their viewers. His Skyspace in Tempe is a slight departure, in that Turrell relies both on the light of the sky and on man-made light and color reflected on the large-scale frame that's suspended by a metal structure surrounding the installation. The colors change periodically, and the best time to sit and watch the show is a half-hour before sunrise and/or sunset, when the color of the sky and the color of Turrell's frame change most dramatically — or in a lightning storm, when the colors, lights, and surroundings get really interesting. 

Chaos Theory 13 at Legend City Studio: Randy Slack's Chaos Theory art show is always a spectacle. Once a year, the local artist clears the walls of Legend City Studios, which he owns with three photographers (Jason Grubb, John Balinkie, and Brandon Sullivan), and hangs dozens of pieces by local artists — usually in one 24-hour span. This year was especially notable, as Slack had to explain a few curatorial decisions to the community days before the big opening. But, as usual, the night went off with a bang and without a hitch. Hundreds crowded into the gallery to see work by more than 60 artists (about the closest we get to a Thursday night in Chelsea). They looked, they laughed, and they brought their kids, who climbed over each other (and around the artwork) to create one of Chaos Theory's most "community-centric" events since its inception.

Matteo Rubbi at Combine Studios: Italian artist Matteo Rubbi was an artist in residence with ASU Art Museum throughout 2012. You might have bumped into him making masks for young First Friday attendees, at "Magic Friday" dinners at the museum and in downtown Phoenix, or challenging the local view of how art can transform a space and the interaction between audience and gallery setting. His research, interactions, and creations during his time in Phoenix were center stage during November at downtown Phoenix's Combine Studios, where he discussed cultural aspects of mining in Arizona, urban transportation, and food as a bridge between people of different backgrounds. His show included work on copper, chalkboard drawing, mixed-media pieces, and a large-scale board game that Rubbi interpreted from a Jules Verne novel. His work is smart and refreshing, and his whimsical personality was something to be seen. Rubbi returned to Italy late this year, and now we just have to figure out how to get him to come back. 

Chaos Theory 13
Claire Lawton
Chaos Theory 13
James Turrell's "Skyspace"
James Turrell's "Skyspace"
Senses #3 by Anthony Velasquez
Senses #3 by Anthony Velasquez


Claire Lawton edits Jackalope Ranch (www.phxculture.com), New Times' culture blog.

Carrie Marill's Tribute Mural in November: In March, hundreds of volunteers, Roosevelt Row staff members, and a group of local artists gathered on Roosevelt Street to build picnic tables, clean the sidewalks, and paint murals on a few of the neighborhood's buildings. Carrie Marill, whose art has traveled across the country (I spotted it in SoHo in April and at SMoCA in October) designed a large cyclist for the florist on Roosevelt and Third Street. It was a tribute to Margaret Kilgallen, a huge name and well-loved street artist who died in 2001. The man on an old-school cruiser with a striped top and a hefty baguette in his bike basket was immediately recognizable as Kilgallen-esque, and it drew a variety of responses from the community. Many loved it, but in November, the mural was defaced — painted over with huge red blocks of paint. Marill assumed whoever painted over it thought it was merely a rip-off, not a tribute. She thought about painting a different design, but I'm glad that instead, on the following day, Marill and a few volunteers bit back, grabbed a few more buckets of paint, and repainted the design in front of an audience on First Friday.

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