Reviews by Wynter Holden
"Holy Land: Diaspora and the Desert" at the Heard Museum: Something is definitely missing here. Only one Israeli artist is represented, and the closest thing to Jewish art is a photographic series exploring the Dead Sea. Still, this exhibition is worth checking out, even if just to ponder the meaning of Einar and Jamex de la Torre's Maybe, a Mayan head sputtering abstract poetry attached to a weathered camper, which even the museum's docents can't figure out. The most telling piece is the multimedia installation Treehouse Kit, in which artist Guy Ben-Ner is shown deconstructing and reassembling an abstract wooden tree to form basic necessities - - a bed, table, chair and umbrella. It proves that even when there's nothing to work with, we'll find a way to connect the dots. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for students. Through December 31. 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848, www.heard.org.
"Art in Hand: Judith Leiber Handbags" at Phoenix Art Museum: Can a purse be a work of art? Perhaps, if it was designed by Hungarian-born artist Judith Leiber, whose jeweled evening bags have been carried by every first lady since Nancy Reagan and had a cameo (albeit not a very gracious one) on Sex and the City. Leiber's minaudières (small metal cases) feature bold hues and nontraditional shapes, including fruits, vegetables and a variety of wildlife from polar bears to Scottie dogs. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, free to all on Thursdays. Through August 27. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222, www.phoenixartmuseum.org.
"Overtures" at Costello-Childs Contemporary Gallery: This gallery is doing a great job of attracting new artists to Arizona. Colorado's Emilio Lobato employs the clean lines and elemental themes of Asian art in his paper collages, and Texan Kate Ritson's Ringed Totems are a cubist tribute to their Native cousins. The evolution of Sally Anderson's encaustic wall hangings from matte pastel squares with a choppy, stucco texture to sleek vertical bands of white, black and vibrant orange imparts the one word that encompasses all three artists: refreshing. Admission is free. Through May 31. 1001 N. 3rd Ave., Suite 2, Phoenix, 602-252-3610, www.costellochildsart.com.
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"Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?" at Burton Barr Central Library: From start to finish, this inspirational exhibition defies convention. The collection of 182 color and black-and-white photographs depicts sportswomen of all ages, races and walks of life -- from corseted, Victorian-era tennis players, to household names including Martina Navratilova and Mary Lou Retton, to unknowns like the gangly, prepubescent girl with Coke-bottle glasses skateboarding down the driveway in Meri Simon's Tomboy. Check out Lynn Johnson's stirring image of Aimee Mullins, the first double-amputee to compete, and break records, in NCAA Division I track. If that doesn't motivate you to put down the bonbons and run some serious laps, nothing will. Admission is free. Through Monday, May 15. 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-262-4636, http://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org.
"Father and Son Exhibition" at Figarelli Fine Art: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree when it comes to sculptor Allan Houser Haozous and his son, Phillip. Father's influence can be seen in the familial depictions dominating Phillip's work -- brothers embracing, mothers clinging to infants. But the younger Haozous brings a modern, cubist influence to his work; the linear shapes contrast sharply with the fluid curves of his father's bronze sculpture Like a Dream, featured at the opening of the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian. Admission is free. Through May 30. 7610 E. McDonald Dr., Scottsdale, 480-609-7077, www.figarellifineart.com.
"Carol Cassidy and the Laos Weavers" at Mesa Arts Center: An expert for the United Nations weaving program, American Carol Cassidy blends the ancient tradition of weft ikat weaving with modern design innovations. The exhibition includes Cassidy's jewel-toned wall hangings as well as historical examples of headgear and clothing worn by Laotian women. Bands of vibrant pink elephants dance around the edge of one Lowland Lao sin (skirt) on display, while others have hidden Buddhist motifs representing karma and rebirth. Check out the centerpiece, a wooden loom used by the factory workers at Cassidy's Lao Textiles, and maybe next time someone waltzes into the room wearing a pashmina shawl, youÕll appreciate the sweat and tears that went into its construction. Admission is $3.50. Through May 28. 1 E. Main St., Mesa, 480-644-6501, www.mesaartscenter.com.