The street art that's relatively common around certain parts of Phoenix, including Roosevelt Row, is typically a whole lot harder to come by in Scottsdale. But that's not the case this week, as Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art features works created by some of the best known street artists in metro Phoenix -- including Lalo Cota, Thomas "Breeze" Marcus, Pablo Luna, J.B. Snyder, father-and-son team Such and Champ Styles, and several others.
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On Saturday night, May 2, SMoCA held a fundraiser dubbed Scottsdale Mix: Street Art Moves Inside. Those who attended saw gallery spaces painted by local artists best known for their outdoor mural and graffiti art -- plus music, urban dance, street food, and more. But those who didn't hit Saturday's shindig will have the chance to see the street art this week without paying museum admission.
SMoCA is offering free admission through Sunday, May 10, so that more people can see the works before the museum readies its galleries for the next round of exhibitions. Most of the street art was painted on gallery walls, although some was painted on segments of wooden-slat fencing. Most pieces were created using brushes and rollers rather than aerosol cans.
We headed over to SMoCA during last Thursday's Scottsdale Artwalk, where we found Pablo Luna painting tops for benches that dot the gallery spaces. Inside we discovered he'd painted a cityscape with Lalo Cota, which runs the full-length of a massive wall. Fencing covered in graffiti by several different artists, including Tyson Krank, runs beneath it.
Joshua Rhodes was painting inside, creating a large-scale version of his For The Sin piece recently shown at Palabra -- which has seven columns of colors filled with cartoon-style characters representing the seven deadly sins. He'd started the SMoCA piece on Monday, working several hours each day through Friday to complete it.
Opposite Rhodes' mural is another long wall sporting a black background and bold interlocking designs painted in red by Thomas "Breeze" Marcus. Mando Rascon, who does tattoo art for Immaculate Tattoo, painted several of his designs on another wall with a matte black background. The scale of these works, which run floor to ceiling in most cases, ups their visual impact.
Participating artists were chosen by Lalo Cota and commissioned by the museum to create works for the space, according to Sara Cochran, associate director, curator, and educator for SMoCA. The Cota/Luna cityscape, started on April 20, was the first piece painted in the space. Cohran says most artists, like Rhodes, landed at SMoCA the following Monday and worked up to a full week on their designs. Frankly, we were aghast to see that no female street artists made the list.
Most of the works will be painted over to make way for future exhibitions, although portable elements such as fencing may be re-purposed in ways, Cochran told us Monday morning, they haven't yet determined.
In one particular gallery, visitors can see J.B. Snyder's characteristic style channeling a stained glass vibe, a mural by Volar with an abstract science-fiction feel, and three rows of storefront-style signs by Mr. Matt. Two columns creating a passageway from one end of the gallery to another bear bold text credited to Kaper, a name sometimes used by Pablo Luna. On the other side visitors encounter Angel Diaz work depicting a man and a woman with tattoos that read "Phoenix" and "SMoCA."
Works by Lalo Cota dot several gallery spaces. On one wall, he's painted an eye within a semi-circle of blue, yellow, and orange that looks like a rising sun. On another he's painted a car with a license plate that reads "Illegal Arizona." A mural painted by Cota and Gennaro Garcia, which depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe, was painted outside Calvin Charles Gallery during a recent Scottsdale Artwalk.
On one wall, there's a star painted by Alex Votichenko, who goes by Djentrification when in DJ mode. On another, SMoCA is showing slides of 300 street art scenes photographed in and beyond metro Phoenix by Niba DelCastillo. Diagrams showing the names of participating street artists, and where their works are located in the space, were available at the front desk when we stopped by on Sunday.
In some cases, artists use different names for different pieces. It's all part of the street art culture you can experience at SMoCA through Sunday, May 10.
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Several SMoCA Mix artists will be participating in a roundtable discussion taking place Thursday, May 7 at 7 p.m., which is free and open to the public. The artist line-up had yet to be determined when we spoke with Cochran by phone on Monday. On Sunday, May 10, the museum will be open from noon to 3 p.m. rather than normal Sunday hours that extend until 5 p.m., for a free Mother's Day event with a street art theme. The event features mask-making, dance lessons with the Phoenix Cyphers, community mural painting led by Mel "Melo" Dominguez of Tucson, and other activities. We're pleased to see a female artist finally made it into this street art mix. Find more information on the SMoCA website.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.