ASU Galleries Director Grant Vetter on Embracing Phoenix's Madness

Meet ASU gallery director Grant Vetter.
Meet ASU gallery director Grant Vetter.
Courtesy of Grant Vetter

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 18. Grant Vetter.

Whether he can't stop, won't stop, or falls somewhere in between, Grant Vetter doesn't need motivation. 

"I don't think in terms of motivation," the 38-year-old Valley resident says. "I just never stop doing the things I love."

Those things? They mainly revolve around the arts. 

Vetter is a curator, arts aficionado, and writer whose dedication to creative pursuits tends to rule his days and nights. He runs Tempe contemporary art space Fine Art Complex 1101, writes for the Arts Beacon, and serves as the galleries director at Arizona State University.

"Anyone who reads this and 'likes' ASU Step Gallery, ASU Harry Wood Gallery, ASU Gallery 100 on Facebook has my sincere thanks for supporting the incredible work of the ASU graduates and our amazing local artists who exhibit there," Vetter says. 

Certainly, it's a grind. But it's also inspiring. As a self-described life-long learner, Vetter says he finds inspiration in "people who make art, write, dance, act, or do what most of the world doesn't consider to be 'real jobs.'"

His proximity to artists — "the best people on the planet" — makes the sometimes hectic schedule, which recently included a weekend when Vetter found himself hanging two new shows in a matter of days, all worthwhile. 

Next up on the agenda is a show titled "Parables of the Virtual." Vetter curated the exhibition, which opens September 17 at Fine Art Complex 1101 and features the work of James Angel, Lori Fenn, Tovah Goldfine, Lily Montgomery, Dewey Nelson, and Ben Willis.

The following month, he'll present "This Machine Kills," a show curated by the directors of the Mexi-Cali Biennial that opens on November 5 — just the weekend before the presidential election. 

"It has great artists coming in from well beyond Arizona along with some of our very best Arizona natives," Vetter says, "not to mention that curators Ed Gomez and Luis G. Hernandez have been building the reputation of the Mexi-Cali Biennial to the point where it has been receiving international attention for some time now, so I'm honored to get to work with them at my space!"

A look inside the Tempe space Vetter runs.
A look inside the Tempe space Vetter runs.
Image courtesy of Fine Art Complex 1101

I came to Phoenix with a broken heart, a pocket full of dreams, and handful of knowledge about how to get stuff done in the arts in unique and unusual ways.

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Well, I stopped making art but I write art criticism and I curate full time ... and I consider them both to be an art, and I do it because I forgot to stop writing and curating. That's how I do everything in life, I just forget to stop doing the things I love to do.

I'm most productive when I can be surprised each day by the next new challenge.

My inspiration wall is full of art.

I've learned most from every person who has ever spoke to me from their heart, followed their intuition until their dreams manifested as reality, and showed me how to live a better life today than how I was living the day before.

Good work should always destroy you utterly ... but in the best way possible.

Phoenix has to embrace its own madness. If you meet an artist here, they are hardcore about making art. They probably work in a studio that breaks 100 degrees on some days ... and nothing is stopping them. We have to embrace the character of our town and promote it well beyond the borders of the state!

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
37. Tiffany Lopez
36. Kristin Bauer
35. Donna Isaac
34. Douglas Miles
33. Sierra Joy
32. Francisco Flores
31. Amy Robinson
30. Julio Cesar Morales
29. Duane Daniels
28. Kelsey Pinckney
27. Ben Smith
26. Rembrandt Quiballo
25. Corinne Geertsen
24. Tess Mosko Scherer
23. Slawomir Wozniak
22. Elly Finzer
21. Josh Brizuela
20. Amy K. Nichols
19. Angela Johnson


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