Maybe I'm just a sucker for scandal, but it wasn't until the recent squabble over the Downtown Chandler Artwalk that I became jazzed to drive out there. The East Valley Art Guild used to be in charge of the monthly event, held on first Wednesdays but rubbed out by the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership. The guild felt thwarted and called for a boycott of the November walk. I just had to see what all the fuss was about and, lucky for me, I came across Vision Gallery, which has an impressive show definitely worth fighting over. There's not much of a theme, but I didn't mind, given the quality of the work.
Local artist Christy Puetz is known for her intricate beading. Here, she's displayed her wacky hats and sculptures. Bright and playful, made with expert craftsmanship, her pieces ares always a joy to see. But Self Awareness Quilt really stood out. Using a flat panel and hanging it like a painting, Puetz beaded a design that looks like a patchwork quilt of leftover fabric scraps. Almost the entire surface is covered with tiny sparkling beads, creating the various textile patterns. Curiously, among the designs are colorful, plastic illustrations of human body parts. The brain, a set of teeth, and a human ribcage (guts included) are sewn in and outlined by rows of colorful beads. It's a grab bag of concepts that doesn't make much sense yet somehow works — a visual stream of consciousness.
Another artist I enjoyed was Kathy Taylor, who used encaustic (melted wax) to give new life to the tired motif of horses. One piece, in particular, worked for me. She covered the surface of a 10-inch piece of a 4x4 wood block with dreamy layers of beige and teal wax. The lone silhouette of a horse emerges from the mist. Scarlet in color, its head is downcast and its spindly legs practically drizzle down the block like drops of blood. This lonely, starving figure is tragic and beautiful.
On the back wall of the gallery was an exciting piece by Chicago artist Yvette Kaiser Smith. Community Structure #8 consists of vertical rows of alternating sky blue and sea green translucent panels of crocheted fiberglass. It looks like a cross between the edges of a lacy skirt of a bed and those plastic thingies that hold six-packs of beer together. Unfortunately, the gallery placed this piece against a busy faux-stone finished wall. That, in combination with the poor overhead track lighting, deflated most of the potential of the piece. With better lighting and placement against a white wall, the play of light refraction through the fiberglass and the consequential shadow designs would be interesting, but here, it falls flat.
The poor display was a minor hiccup in this show. And even without the draw of the recent scandal, I'll be keeping an eye on this Chandler gallery for sure.
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